Skip to content

Serious working at height incidents

A member has reported a number of serious working at height incidents, resulting in a fatality and five Lost Time Injuries (LTIs). The member would like to raise awareness of the risks associated with working with heights.

Incident 1 – LTI

An employee of a sub-contractor slipped and fell 15m resulting in a brain haemorrhage and leg fracture.

The injured person and co-worker location with a fall distance of 15m
The injured person and co-worker location with a fall distance of 15m
Roof sheets stacked on top of one another
Roof sheets stacked on top of one another

Incident 2 – LTI

The injured person stood on a cardboard box to access the racking shelves in the storage area, of an onshore yard. Consequently, the injured person fell from the box and suffered a broken wrist and fractured elbow.

Internal storage area at onshore site
Internal storage area at onshore site

Incident 3 – LTI in Shipyard

The injured person was attempting to transit an unsecured walkway and fell a distance of 1.7m. The person fell onto the scaffold structure below; the fall resulted in four broken ribs.

Showing from where and how injured person fell
Showing from where and how injured person fell

Incident 4 – LTI on Offshore Vessel

In the fourth incident, a deck hand slipped and fell down a ladder leading from the deck to the paint store. He was found at the foot of the ladder in pain and unable to move, subsequently he required a medevac.

Incident 5 – Fall on the same level: LTI on offshore vessel

The injured person stepped down onto exposed hose-work from the ROV launch and recovery system (LARS). The person skidded onto the deck and slipped. The impact resulted in two minor fractures to the bones in right arm.

Worksite where injury occurred
Worksite where injury occurred

Incident 6 – Fall from height fatality

Whilst installing a ventilation system an employee of a sub-contractor, fell from the roof of a building. The person fell approximately 22m and died as a result. The employee was equipped with a safety harness; neither of the two lanyards had been attached to the adjacent life-lines.

The hole through which person fell and the distance to ground
The hole through which person fell and the distance to ground
The hole through which person fell and the distance to ground
The hole through which person fell and the distance to ground

Our member summarised that irrespective of the height, the potential consequence of a fall can be extremely severe and the above cases are clear evidence of this. A fall from a height is entirely avoidable if procedures are followed, risk assessments and tool box talks are conducted also suitable and sufficient mitigation is in place.

Our member recommended the following:

  • Implement the conditions of the Permit to Work, consider operations which may be undertaken concurrently with others;
  • Ensure personnel are suitably qualified and experienced;
  • Provide adequate supervision;
  • Use appropriate working at height equipment and tooling;
  • Conduct a toolbox talk;
  • If in doubt ‘stop the job’ and re-assess;

Members’ attention is also drawn to the wide range of IMCA safety promotional materials, which will be of use in mitigating risks of this sort, including:

Safety Event

Published: 20 December 2013
Download: IMCA SF 18/13

IMCA Safety Flashes
Submit a Report

IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding [email protected]om to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.

IMCA’s store terms and conditions (https://www.imca-int.com/legal-notices/terms/) apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.

IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.