IPAF issues bulletin on Archers fall

IPAF has ‘flagged’ the fact that the late Nigel Pargetter in the long running British radio drama The Archers would not have died on New Year’s Day had he used an aerial lift or proper Personal Protection Equipment.

For those of you who are not familiar with it, The Archers is the world’s longest running ‘soap opera’ and features twice every weekday on BBC Radio 4. (Pod casts are available and it also holds the record for the most online listeners of any radio programme).

On its 60th anniversary programme at the start of the New Year, one of its most popular characters – Nigel Pargetter – fell to his death from the roof of his stately home – Lower Loxley Hall- while removing a large New Year’s banner.

Having intended to remove it the following day, however his brother in law, who was due to help him persuaded him to do it after guests had left a New Year’s lunch party in order to save him coming back next day.
Nigel Pargetter (actor Graham Seed)

In spite of the fact that it is pure fiction, the fatality has been the subject of much trauma, discussion and debate in the British media.

A statement from IPAF, never one to miss a lobbying opportunity, says: “While the audience and the fictional characters cope with the tragic loss of Nigel Pargetter, the powered access industry must be asking: Why didn’t Nigel use a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP)? Why did he simply climb up the roof, apparently in dark and windy conditions, and with no fall protection? Did he not do a risk assessment before taking on this task?”
Lower Loxley Hall

“This tragedy for one of Britain’s best-known soap opera families raises serious questions for safe work at height. People – electricians, industrial cleaners, steel fixers, aerial installers, tree surgeons, painters and many other trades – too often underestimate the real dangers of any work at height. Falls from height continue to be the biggest killer in the industry.”

“Nigel’s death and other similar accidents in the real world are tragic because they can be prevented through the use of the right equipment and with proper training. Powered access equipment, in the hands of a trained operator, offers a safe and effective way to work at height. Most areas in Britain are covered with easy local access to a wide range of MEWPs, and these are increasingly being used by those who recognise the combined safety benefits and productivity gains. “

IPAF calls on the producers of the show to visit www.ipaf.org to learn about safe work at height.

Vertikal Comment

Clearly this is release from IPAF is a little ‘tongue in cheek’ but it does highlight an issue we all care passionately about at a time when it has been raised in a highly public way.

But it is even more than that, The Archers was founded in 1951 in order to put across farming and other tips in a popular and easy to listen to format. Even today when most listeners are totally unconnected with agriculture, the programme maintains an ‘agricultural story editor’ and is used to feed the latest information and ideas to the farming community through its story lines.

Given the relatively high level of falls from height on farms – often when using telehandler or front end loader buckets as platforms – this story line could have an impact. Interestingly as Lower Loxley Hall is a place of business (conference centre and wedding venue) the Health & Safety Executive was or is due to carry out an investigation of the accident.

Might we finally see the safe work at height message properly addressed by a popular soap? Watch this space or rather listen to The Archers.
Have a great Weekend.


David Cross
2pm every day on the back cab radio

16 Jan 2011
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