The consequences of an injury when working at height

by Tim Bishop on July 17, 2013

The average human body is usually robust and resilient enough to survive the physical knocks and bumps to be expected in life relatively unscathed. However falls from height in course of employment are unfortunately of a different magnitude altogether and usually not expected – and the combination of the initial shock, the fall distance and nature of the surfaces impacted with can inflict really extensive damage to an employee’s body.

A recent study published in the United States into the injuries caused by falls from height found that the severity of the injury was primarily dependant on the capacity of the surface onto which the victim fell to ‘deform’ i.e. to bend, give and absorb some of the energy of the impact such as water. So, for example, concrete would have no capacity to deform, whilst at the other end of the spectrum, safety airbags would be a high deformity surface on which to fall and hence much safer to land on.

As far as major injuries go, the study found that fall distances below seven metres generally resulted in fractures to lower limbs rather than to upper limbs or the head, but as the fall distance continued to increase above seven metres, the proportion of head, spinal, pelvic and thoracic injuries proportionally increased as did the number of fatal injuries. This does not make for happy reading and when it is considered that some of the most common injuries resulting from workplace fall accidents include skull fractures, intracranial bleeding, brain damage, internal organ injuries and fractures of major bones, it is not at all surprising to learn that falls from height are the number one cause of fatalities at work.

In fact, in the UK , upwards of 4000 people each and every year receive serious injuries from falls while working at height. Injuries from falls when working at height are a major cause of workplace fatalities – with most such accidents occurring in the construction industry. Remarkably most major injuries arise from falls of less than two metres. The consequences of injuries sustained in falls from height at work can, even if they aren’t fatal, be quite devastating for the victims. Short fall distances can result in very painful strains, sprains, cuts, bruises and fractures, but falls from very high places often result in injuries that are tragically and irreversibly life changing. To be injured thus is appalling enough, but to know that your accident was probably the result of an easily avoidable lapse in risk management on the part of your employer can be deeply upsetting. It is little wonder that once the initial medical trauma has been dealt with, many workplace fall victims decide to determinedly exercise their right to claim compensation and sensibly seek advice from a specialist accident claim solicitor in order to pursue this goal.

Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop, specialist Andover and Salisbury personal injury and medical negligence solicitors. For more information on how to make a medical negligence or personal injury claim, click here to visit their specialist website or call their team directly on 01722 422300.

Tim Bishop
Having qualified as a Solicitor in 1986, Tim Bishop is a legal entrepreneur who owns leading law firm Bonallack & Bishop Solicitors. Find out why you should choose Bonallack & Bishop Solicitors: Visit
Tim Bishop

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