Falls from height are responsible for some of the most serious injuries sustained at work, but frustratingly the majority of these accidents could easily be prevented if only the employer properly planned how the work should be carried out and put the necessary safety precautions in place.
Worker Sustains Severe Injuries
The consequences of an employer failing in its health and safety obligations were clearly demonstrated in a recently reported case where a worker suffered severe injuries after falling from a fork lift truck.
He worked for a food manufacturing company and had been instructed to paint guttering and drainpipes on the outside of a factory. He was raised up by a forklift driver in an unsecured tote box to paint when he fell to the ground from a height of around six metres resulting in a dislocated arm, cracked pelvis, broken foot and shattered leg.
When the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident it found the work was not properly planned or adequately supervised. The injured worker had not received any training or advice on how to correctly carry out the task.
The company appeared in court where it was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £19,032 in costs.
“This work activity should have been properly planned,” explained HSE inspector Samantha Farrar, speaking after the trial. “The injured worker should have been given the correct equipment as well as instruction as to how to carry out the work. The company also failed to adequately supervise the activity, which could have prevented the incident.”
Fall from Height Proves Fatal
Tragically, in some cases the injuries sustained as a result of a fall are serious enough to be fatal.
This was sadly the case in an incident involving a worker in Grantham, who died after falling from a cherry picker.
He was climbing from the basket of a cherry picker onto an overhead travelling crane to repair it. The task had not been properly planned and was carried out without a harnesses and fall arrest equipment, which could have saved him when he fell.
An investigation by the HSE found that the company failed to provide and enforce a safe system of work for accessing the overhead cranes in the factory. It did not have appropriate management arrangements in place for controlling, monitoring and reviewing the safety of maintenance tasks and the activity was not properly risk assessed.
The company pleaded guilty to being in breach of Regulation 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulations 3(1) and 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. It was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,622.
“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working,” commented HM Inspector Martin Giles. “This incident could have been prevented had Fruehauf Limited provided appropriate supervision and suitable fall arrest equipment for their workers to wear and use.”
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