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Mon December 04 2023

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Testing house calls for dropped objects to climb safety agenda

7 Aug 19 It is the third biggest cause of workplace fatal injuries but there is no specific legislation to address it.

Bureau Veritas, the testing, inspection and certification organisation, is calling on the construction industry to devise news strategies to better mitigate the risks of falling objects.

While the health & safety industry expends much time and effort on tackling the risk of falling at height, the reality is that the danger presented by falling objects from above is just as startling, Bureau Veritas says – accounting for 16% of all fatal accidents in the workplace, according to the latest Health & Safety Executive (HSE) statistics.

‘Dropped objects’ is number three in the list of UK’s workplace killers behind ‘falls from a height’ and ‘being struck by a moving vehicle.’

Karl Simpson, managing health & safety consultant at Bureau Veritas, said: “Aside from being briefly mentioned in the 2005 Working at Height Regulations, there is no still no specific legislation in the UK about falling object prevention. As such, it often isn’t treated with the same level of gravitas as other more obvious risks, such as falling from a height, whereby there can be a tendency for businesses to overlook the importance of drop prevention devices because they can be restrictive, while others may adopt a ‘one size fits’ all approach which doesn’t effectively cater for all objects.

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“Yet, we must remember even a relatively small falling object from a height presents a very serious, life-threatening risk – to put into context a 500g object dropped from 15 metres has the same impact energy as a 75kg washing machine.”

He added: “In terms of best practice, at Bureau Veritas we recommend that all industry sectors have a robust plan in place to alleviate this risk. When working with construction businesses, for example, we advise that all those working at height, whether on a roof or scaffold, tether tools and other items at source to prevent them falling to ground level.

“The reality today is that the risk presented by falling objects can happen anywhere – particularly as adverse weather conditions become more the norm.  That’s why it’s important that anybody with a building portfolio should take steps to identify and mitigate risk from such occurrences – especially considering the current trend for usable roof terraces – covering everything from the specification of furniture through to the placement of utilities.”

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