UK forum calls for clearer accident reporting
29 November 2023
The UK’s Access Industry Forum (AIF), which represents work at height trade associations, is calling for clearer reporting of workplace accidents.
As newly released Health & Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show another year of little improvement in workplace falls from height, said the AIF, it is urging the government and businesses to work together to prevent accidents.
Recent HSE statistics show that over 5,000 people in the UK were injured at work last year due to a fall from height. 40 people also lost their lives.
“These incidents are required by law to be reported by employers through Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), but it is known there is substantial underreporting of non-fatal falls from height for all workers, particularly the self-employed, who were found to report just 12% of workplace incidents,” said AIF.
In addition to employer reported RIDDOR incidents, the HSE estimates the scale of non-fatal workplace injury using its preferred source, the Labour Force Survey (LFS). According to the LFS, the number of falls over the last 10 years may be up to 425,0004.
Along with the lives, families and businesses affected by these accidents, up to 992,000 working days were lost through non-fatal falls from height in the UK alone, stated AIF.
“Not only that, the total cost of non-fatal falls in 2022/23 is estimated to be over £770 million, made up of costs to the employer and the individual, government tax losses and benefit payments. These figures have been consistent over recent years, with no signs of improvement.”
Research undertaken by the AIF found that limited data collected on the circumstances surrounding accidents, coupled with a problematic reporting system, it said, make it difficult to pinpoint the underlying causes of falls from height and identify whether they are related to issues such as faulty equipment, lack of training, or negligence.
The AIF is renewing its call for a simplified system of reporting to more accurately reflect the cause of workplace accidents so that informed, preventative measures can be implemented to address the cause of fall from height incidents.
The AIF actively supports the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height, which will bring together MPs for the UK government and stakeholders from across industry at its next meeting in Westminster in December. They will be discussing how government and business can work together to ensure technological and regulatory progress can be made to make the UK the safest country in the world for those working at height.
Peter Bennett OBE, AIF Chair, said, “This year’s statistics show that there is much work still to be done to ensure those who have to work at height do so in as safe an environment as possible. Very little information is provided on the circumstance around non-fatal and fatal incidents, with current reporting focused on the type of incident as opposed to what caused it in the first place. This needs to change if we are to see a decrease in the number of people who tragically lose their lives while working at height, and those who suffer the life-changing consequences of a fall from height.
“We know that working at height can be dangerous, but we should be able to put appropriate and robust measures in place to make it safer. I look forward to attending the meeting of the APPG in December so we can demonstrate to lawmakers the need for a simplified reporting system and ensure all those working at height go home safely at the end of the day.”