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How my parliamentary panel is targeting safety at height

Alison Thewliss

In the past year, 25 families have lost loved ones or have had their lives forever changed due to a fall from height.

Work at height is not confined just to the construction sector. In 2014, an estimated one million UK businesses and 10 million workers carried out duties involving some form of work at height.

Falls from height are one of the main causes of death and serious injury at work. However, this very important issue often does not receive the attention that it should, particularly among policy-makers.

A need for change

This is why when the Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ & Manufacturers’ Association (PASMA) approached me about establishing the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height, I knew that I wanted to be involved.

As the chair of the APPG, I am working with the industry, policy-makers and other interested parties to ensure that everybody, regardless of what they do, can return home safely to their families at the end of the day.

Of course, accidents are occasionally unavoidable. But it is clear that more can be done – particularly through the use of evolving technology – to mitigate risk.

In December 2017, the APPG launched an inquiry to investigate serious injury and fatalities while working at height. Both myself and those involved in the group could not have anticipated the huge interest from such a diverse range of stakeholders.

“We will continue to speak to stakeholders and plan to publish a range of workable and achievable recommendations to regulators and government”

This has included prominent industry names, trade associations, SMEs and main contractors, all of whom have shown a willingness to engage constructively and provide practical solutions to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries from falls while working at height.

This is just the start

Crucially, the APPG has also heard from victims of falls.

Indeed, listening to harrowing stories and testimony has been hugely important to ensure that we never lose sight of the central issue: that there are still far too many people who die or suffer serious injury as a result of a fall at work.

We believe that the APPG can help to raise the profile of these issues and deliver real change.

We will continue to speak to stakeholders over the next few months, and also plan to publish a range of workable and achievable recommendations to regulators and government in the autumn.

The launch of our inaugural report marks the beginning of the APPG’s work, and we understand that there is still considerable ground to cover if we are to succeed in making a real impact on working at height.

We are looking forward to the challenge.

Alison Thewliss is the member of parliament for Glasgow Central and chair of the APPG on Working at Height

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