As a mother of an overactive toddler, that thinks gravity need not apply to him, this story of a tragic fall from height broke my heart. Eight-year-old boy dies after falling through roof of Palmerston North school.
A week later I was reading another article in WorksafeBC’s “Worksafe” magazine where Marcelle Hiebert :Occupational safety officer was asked:
Q. I’ve been in the roofing business for a long time and never had any problems. Why is fall protection such a big deal?
A. There’s absolutely no reason anyone should fall from elevation, yet falls are one of the leading causes of injuries to construction workers in British Columbia. They represent 24 percent of all injuries and 37 percent of all claim costs. Falls from ladders, scaffolds, staging, and platforms injured or killed 1,408 workers in the construction sector from 2013 to 2015. That’s more than one fall every day for three years. It’s more than physical injury too. For workers who have had a fall, there could also be psychological trauma. That’s there forever.
So What? How can you prevent a fall from height tragedy
There is no obligation under the Health and Safety Act 2015 to act on behalf of tresspasses, and horrible accidents like what happened to Justin Reid do happen.
There are a few things that property owners can do to try and prevent a fall from height tragedy:
If construction is going on put up hurricane fencing, admittedly a locked fence will not stop a determined person; however, it may be just enough to stop an inquisitive child.
- If you have scaffolding up over a weekend, take down ladders and wrap it up so access is not easy. (There is nothing worse than finding GI Joe and Barbie were having a holiday in a new house three stories high).
Check that there is no easy access to your roof. Whether this be through permanently extended fire escapes or something as simple as stacks of Chep pallets. (This is also smart security).
Make sure that your building (and it’s roof), is up to code and well maintained. There is no reference to this in Justin’s case; however, make sure that this isn’t a thing on your site.
- If you can permanently fence and lock your site that is ideal.
Have a safe and productive week and stay safe if you are working at heights your workers don’t become a fall from heights statistic.