Companies must think long and hard about all the potential pitfalls that await their staff during the typical working day, including the possibility that they may fall or slide and injure themselves as a result.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed details of a case involving Tardis Environmental UK, a firm based in the West Midlands. It employed a 34-year-old man from Walsall and he was clearing a blockage at a housing development when disaster struck in August last year.
He was trying to remove waste that had gathered at the bottom of a sewage well at the site in Halesowen by opening a grid at the top of the opening and using a hose to clear the material. However, the hose kicked back and hit the unnamed man, leading to him losing balance and falling into the well.
As a result, he slid for about seven metres into the well, suffering several injuries. For example, he experienced friction burns to his arms, knees and head, while he also ingested raw sewage.
The man had to spend several days off work in order to overcome his plight and the HSE began to look into the causes of the accident.
It quickly found that although the individual had been trained on how to use the pumping equipment, he had not been taught how to empty waste from below ground level. There was also no evidence that he had received tuition on the issue of working at height.
"The incident was entirely preventable. The nature of the work meant the worker was right next to and leaning over, the deep well. Although he was working at ground level the depth of the pit meant he was working at height so reasonable precautions to prevent a fall should have been provided by the company, such as a worker’s restraint or harness," explained HSE inspector Anthony Woodward.
His words could provide a reminder to other firms that they too should kit out their staff with the necessary safety equipment.