Working at height - are you safe?
Advice from Baptist Insurance for one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries
Baptist Insurance has developed a working at height checklist to help churches identify some of the most common activities requiring working at height and the control measures that can be put in place to help minimise or eliminate the risk.
Working at height remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Unlike other activities that carry a risk of injury, a fall from a height is more likely to result in serious injuries and can be fatal. Before undertaking the task ask yourselves, “Is this something we have the equipment and capabilities to do ourselves or should we seek outside help?”
Conducting repairs or maintenance high up inside a church poses a challenge and risk at the best of times. But doing it alone, without someone to steady a ladder or ensure scaffolding is secure, is an even greater risk as some churches have recently found to their misfortune.
Baptist Insurance’s Technical Survey Manager Kevin Thomas said: “There are specific statutory health and safety regulations applying to working at height.
"It is extremely important that church trustees make sure that when work is carried out at height by staff or volunteers they take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury. Using a stepladder to change a light bulb could result in a serious fall and people should never do jobs like this when unaccompanied. It is vitally important written risk assessments are undertaken, actioned and recorded in writing.”
Quite apart from the risk of injury, this type of accident can expose the church to be investigated by the HSE. Baptist Insurance knows of recent successful prosecutions being brought against churches by enforcing authorities for breach of health and safety regulations.
Kevin added: “An accident caused by a breach in health and safety regulations can have enormous implications. Apart from personal injury, there are indirect costs that insurance does not protect against such as the time taken up by legal action and the reputational damage done to the church involved. It is important we make sure our churches are safe places.”
Information and guidance on working at heights, as well as the working at heights checklist, is available on the Baptist Insurance website