Safety Alert: Failure of High Access Equipment

Fri 3 Sep 2021
posted by Arco Professional Safety Services
Background information Safety Alert Lessons Learnt Investigation

• A team of three operatives were working at a height of approximately 7-8 metres underneath a viaduct.

• The operatives were competent trained rope access personnel, working from a steel cable. Each operative was attached via a harness whilst installing brackets for ducting beneath the viaduct.

• One end of the cable was anchored using a carabiner that was calculated and adjusted to hold the correct weight. • The carabiner failed whilst the operatives were working causing them to fall to the ground.

• One operative landed in the canal, one suffered a broken ankle and one had a broken wrist and femur.

• All involved (including all site personal and family members) have been offered support from the contractor and Highways England. Failure of High Access Equipment 24 August 2021 HEi266



• A rope specialist has been brought in to carry out a full investigation and to help us understand why the carabiner failed and help improve future operations that are conducted within the same way.

• Highways England are working closely with the contractor and HSE to establish all the facts and offer support where necessary.

• The investigation is ongoing and lessons learnt will be shared once all information is gathered.



• Follow an approved Code of Practice for rope working (in this case IARTA).

• When working on high level access equipment, ensure that a specialist is on hand to;

Plan the works thoroughly and note within the RAMS. Ask your ropes specialist to review the RAMS paying particular attention to the provision of a separate safety line for each operative.

Manage the works continually to follow the RAMS, any changes to be signed off by a supervisor.

Monitor – ensure correct supervision of the job throughout the process.

• Assurance and audit systems - reviewed to obtain positive affirmation that that current risk assessments, procedures and processes are being followed correctly


Don’t Walk By

• If something doesn’t look right, or feel right, or you believe there may be a different /better way to do something, stop the job and speak up.


Download pdf of article here

Article taken from The Highways Safety Hub