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A London-based refurbishment company has been fined after a worker was seriously injured when he fell from height from a ladder.
Luton Crown Court heard that on 5 September 2016 an engineer
was testing a sprinkler system for leaks at a site in Hemel Hempstead. He
climbed onto an internal roof and was inspecting the leak from an extension
ladder. The ladder slipped away from him and he fell almost three metres into
the gap between the internal roof and the external wall.
The worker suffered severe blood loss, amounting to around
half of his bloodstream. He required a blood transfusion and needed 14 stiches
to his head. He also sustained a fractured vertebrae and suffered soft
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
found that reasonably practicable measures had not been taken to prevent a fall
from the internal roof for both the engineer and other contractors working on
the roof. The investigation found that Modus Workspace Limited, the principal
contractor, had failed to discharge its duty to ensure those not in their
employment were not exposed to risks, in particular that of falling from
Modus Workspace Limited of Greencoat Place, London was found
guilty after a five-week trial of breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and
Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £1.1 million and ordered to
pay costs of £68,116.18.
HSE inspector John Berezansky, commented: “This case
highlights the importance of taking reasonably practicable measures when
planning and managing the risks regarding work at height within the
“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of
work-related fatalities and injuries in this country and the risks and control
measures associated with working at height are well known.
“The engineer’s injuries were life changing and he could
have easily been killed. This serious incident and devastation could have been
avoided if basic safety measures had been put in place.”
In response to this prosecution, the Ladder Association –
the not-for-profit lead industry body dedicated to promoting the safe use of
ladders and stepladders – is urging all those responsible for managing the use
of ladders to take the necessary measures so, as far as is reasonably
practicable, their employees are not exposed to risks to their health or
Gail Hounslea, chairman of the Ladder Association, the
not-for-profit industry body dedicated to promoting the safe use of ladders and
stepladders, said: “It is clear from this case that the company failed to put
in place basic safety measures and in doing so, failed in its duty to ensure
the safety of its employees and other contractors on site. Unfortunately, this
avoidable accident had life-changing consequences for the victim. The level of
fine imposed, in excess of £1m, is reflective of the seriousness of the
incident and while we never wish to hear of these, we hope it does highlight
the responsibilities placed on employers to keep their employees safe at work.
“The Ladder Association urges all companies who use ladders
in the workplace to comply with their legal and moral duties to safeguard
employees – by doing so, we know there is a far greater likelihood that
accidents such as this can be avoided.”
Falls from height remain one of the leading causes of
workplace fatalities and injuries – accounting for 40 fatalities in 2018/2019.