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New Standard – Personal fall protection equipment. Anchor systems. Specification – BS 8610:2017


In December 2017, the British Standards Institute launched BS 8610:2017. These are new standards for Personal fall protection equipment – Anchor systems and they represent a significant upgrade from the older standards they replace. As a consequence, they are somewhat more complex.

We recognise the importance of getting key standards and safety information distributed across our sector and to assist in this process, Highwire are working with BSIF and other sector experts to develop a simplified position paper.

We will publish this as soon as possible.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more we would love to hear from you.

Alternatively, you can access more details on the new standard here.


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Health and Safety matters to everyone


Health & Safety often gets bad press for being a box-ticking exercise. However, a recent case handled by the HSE demonstrates that height safety needs to be on everybody’s agenda.

The case, which resulted in a scaffolder receiving a suspended sentence for not wearing a harness at height, highlighted the fact that this happened despite him being experienced and having had full training.

The moral of the story – Health & Safety is something that needs to be embedded within the culture of a company, and be seen as important to everyone, and not just those with “Health & Safety” in their job description.

You can read the full story here




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Specialist Height Safety Apprenticeship gets the go-ahead


In early October the Height Safety Trailblazer Group received notification that their proposal to develop a Fall Protection Technician apprenticeship has been approved.

The approval recognised that an appropriate quality of training is available for the Height Safety sector. Approval of the apprenticeship on a national framework is immensely valuable. It means small to medium-sized companies will be able to access grant funding to support apprentice training. It ensures that our sector is able to obtain skilled worker cards for operatives, following the withdrawal of CRO cards this year

What is the Height Safety Trailblazer Group?

A Height Safety Trailblazer Group is a group of employers representing the Height Safety Sector. They have come together to develop standards for apprenticeships specific to relevant job roles in the sector.

The British Safety Industry Federation, Height Safety Group (BSIF HSG) has been formative in setting up the Trailblazer group. A key aim of the group was to ensure it is fully representative of the sector. SME installers make up 50% of the representation.

The group obtained specialist advice from trainers, educators and awarding bodies including BEIS, CITB, HSE etc.

High-Quality Fall-Protection Training

In approving the Height Safety Trailblazer proposal, the Construction Route Panel was particularly complimentary of the “well-written and clear proposal”.  Panel members noted how the proposal clearly explained details of the Fall Protection Technician role in a way that is accessible to someone who perhaps doesn’t have in-depth knowledge of the sector.

We anticipate that the new Fall Protection Technician programme will be available to apprentices next year.

In the meantime, the Height Safety Trailblazer Group will continue to develop the standard, extending it across a range of occupations throughout our sector.

For more details of the Height Safety Trailblazer Group and the new Fall Protection Technician apprenticeship, contact us at Highwire 

For wider information on Trailblazers see Future of Apprenticeships in England: Guidance for trailblazers.

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Small business – £1 million+ fines for Health & Safety breaches


Legal Update

“Company hit with £1 MILLION fine after apprentice died”

“Largest ever fine £2.2m handed to ‘idiotic’ firm after death”

“£3m fine for oil giant as new HSE sentencing guidelines start to bite”

These are all headlines from last year – and the escalating figures are no coincidence. February 2016 saw the introduction of new sentencing guidelines. These have brought a dramatic increase in fines handed out for health and safety offences and corporate manslaughter.

The Health and Safety Executive’s clampdown doesn’t stop with the meteoric rise in financial penalties. Individuals are now more likely to be culpable. There is now a far lower threshold for prison sentences when a director, manager or employee is found guilty.

Everybody’s worst nightmare

A serious or, in worst case, fatal accident at work is obviously deeply distressing for all concerned. The devastating impact for family, friends and colleagues is inevitably accompanied by a loss of trust in the company. Where a tragedy – or even potential tragedy – could have been avoided but for breaches in protective procedures due to consent, connivance or neglect, there have always been financial implications. However, the new ‘Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences Definitive Guideline’ lifts these to an entirely different scale.

Fines now link to a company’s turnover. The starting point is dependent on the level of culpability, prior record and harm. In the worst cases, the guidelines make clear this could be up to 100% of the firm’s pre-tax net profit for the year in question. For the largest organisations, this could mean fines in excess of £100 million.

Clearly, health and safety must be at the forefront of the minds of everyone working in construction. With the new guidelines, the HSE has made its position abundantly clear. It is now for the coostruction industry to rise to teh challenge.

Unprecedented fines

Previously, fines for a health and safety offence leading to a fatality had a recommended starting point of £100,000. Now a medium-sized company (with a turnover of £20-50 million) could face a figure upward of £4 million. Even an offence by a smaller company without any death carries the potential for fine in the hundreds of thousands.

Since the new guidelines came into play, there have already been 16 penalties of £1 million or more. This compares to a previous total of just 32 since 1975. At the current rate, there could be 30-40 per year. Prior to February 2016, approximately five individuals a year received immediate or suspended custodial sentences. There have been at least 20 since and not all the offences in these latest cases resulted in injury.  

There is little doubt that one mistake could put a company’s future in jeopardy – and its management in jail.

Protect your employees – and yourself

Fortunately, few firms intentionally put workers at risk to save money or time, but a simple oversight, rushed decision or shortfall in expert knowledge can have the same disastrous consequences.

With the stakes so high, it is more critical than ever that companies can relieve that pressure with complete faith in the specialists. At Highwire, we not only provide exactly the right height safety equipment for the specific site and project but take all relevant precautions at every stage, from design and installation to maintenance and user training.

Our team has an in-depth understanding of our products and the industry, legislative requirements and up-to-date best practice – but crucially we don’t work in isolation. The new guidelines call for accountability at board level. It is important that those who are ultimately responsible within an organisation are actively engaged with the measures put in place. Only with input from both sides can the solution be carefully tailored to the individual circumstances, and factors such as budget be taken into consideration without any compromise on safety.

Don’t take risks with safety – contact Highwire today – 0161 612 7633 

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Height safety standards – still key following BREXIT vote


There has been a good deal of speculation as to what will happen to a range of safety standards originating from Europe following last June’s vote.

We have now started to see indications that just because the UK is leaving the Single Market and Customs Union doesn’t mean a free for all on the standards front. This is particularly important in the world of height safety where retaining and developing the highest standards for both working practices and equipment is critical to maintaining a safe working environment for everyone involved.

A recent BSI committee meeting at the end of January has released this press statement confirming that European-based Safety Standards will remain at the heart of good business practice in the UK.

Highwire Ltd has been at the forefront of developing the highest levels of safety, training and inclusion across the Height Safety sector, as well as the wider construction industry.

If you have any questions about the potential impact of BREXIT on your height safety obligations, do get in touch

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Three firms sentenced after worker’s death


A renewable technology company and two sub-contractors have been fined for safety failings after a worker was killed when he fell seven metres from a roof while installing solar panels.

Kevin Brookes, 35, from Tamworth, suffered fatal injuries in the incident at Southam Drive, Kineton Road Industrial Estate, Southam on 31 May 2012.

Principal contractor Alumet Renewable Technologies Ltd was jointly prosecuted today (6 Feb) with sub-contractors Midlands Solar Solutions Ltd, who employed Mr Brookes to install the panels, and Rugby Scaffolding Services Ltd, responsible for installing edge protection. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified serious flaws with the health and safety plan and the way the work was managed. Read more

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Firm in court after worker paralysed in roof fall



26 January 2015
An East Lothian firm has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker was left paralysed when he fell almost four metres through a fragile rooflight.

Neil Knox, then 69, of Pencaitland, East Lothian, is confined to a wheelchair after suffering irreparable damage to his spinal cord in the incident on 14 March 2013 as he replaced plastic rooflights on a farm shed in Lauder, in the Scottish Borders.

Jedburgh Sheriff Court was told today (23 Jan) that Mr Knox, a time served and experienced worker without any formal training in roofwork, was employed by David Miller Contracts Ltd to carry out roof repairs at the farm. Read more


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Over 2500 reasons to take height safety seriously


I am often told from those within and outside of my sector that falls from height are such a rare occurrence – the implication being that height safety does not warrant being taken more seriously than some roofing ancillary like a gutter, or even a rain screen

Being a curious sort I thought I’d look this up. Within 15 minutes I found 15 prosecutions on the HSE press site all within the last 12 weeks. A total of; over £255K in fines and costs; 5 serious breaches; 7 serious injuries. The fines where apportioned across all the companies responsible – clearly in the courts risk cannot be packaged and sold.

Looking at the wider statistics in 2013 the reported deaths numbered 46, with some 2500+ reported serious injuries. The majority of these where within the construction and maintenance sectors.I wonder if we would find the statistics so minor if it where this number of architects, engineers or quantity surveyors?

To successfully complete a construction project takes many different skills, there is little point designing and engineering a building without the craftsmanship and labour required to construct it.
In an environment where our sector needs to retain and attract skills – these statistics hardly send the correct message.

Like many height safety professionals all too frequently I come across the attitude that provisions are simply about gaining a certificate at the lowest cost rather than actually being fit for purpose – because falls do not happen? Well in 2013 there where over 2500 reasons to rethink this attitude.


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£10,000 fine after worker roof fall


A Bristol-based roofing company has been fined £10,000 after an employee fell through the roof light of a warehouse in Edinburgh.

Mitie Tilley Roofing Ltd pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for failing to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to its employees when working at heights.
On 31 July 2013, three employees of the business were engaged in carrying out patch repairs on the flat roof of the vacant warehouse in the west of the city.
The case was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive which found that the risk assessment was not appropriate for the task and the system of work was unsafe. The accident “could have been avoided” had reasonably practicable precautions been taken.
Mitie Tilley Roofing Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 4 of the Working At Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £10,000. Continue reading



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Developer goes to prison after repeatedly flouting safety law


Date:18 July 2014

A developer has been sent to prison for 30 months after repeatedly breaching prohibition notices which were put in place to ensure the safety of workers while redeveloping a former office block in Parkeston, Essex.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the site on 28 February 2013 following complaints from local residents worried about debris falling from upper storeys and of the danger to workers being left without any protection from falling while working at height.

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