Working at Height – Successful HSE Prosecution
A South-West Hampshire firm has been fined after an employee fractured his forearm, working at height, in a two metre fall from an unguarded office roof that had been used to store boxes.
Cannon Technologies Ltd of New Milton, had been using the internal area over the office as an improvised storage area and it was commonplace for staff to use a set of steps to climb up to get flat packed boxes.
West Hampshire Magistrates heard that on 9 July 2012, a 27 year-old worker fell from the roof when his foot got tangled in a coil of wires. As well as injuring his forearm, which will still not fully straighten, he also broke a toe.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Cannon Technologies for safety failings. HSE found the company had failed to provide any edge protection around the office roof and a better method of accessing the area.
The court was told the employee used a set of airplane steps to get to the roof and had passed down the flat-packed boxes that were needed. As he started to climb back onto the steps, his foot became caught in the wire, causing him to lose his balance. The steps rocked from side to side before toppling over and he fell to the packing room floor. He has since returned to work.
The company was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £2,740 in costs after admitting a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Rob Hassell said:
“This was a preventable incident and an avoidable injury if only the company had employed good sense and opened their eyes to the obvious risks.”
“Installing suitable protection around the edge and a safer method of getting up and down again from the roof was quite straightforward and Cannon Technologies Ltd has since put this in place.”
“It is a reminder though that just because something has become custom and practice, does not mean that employees and companies should not question existing work methods.”
“Falling from height remains one of the common causes of deaths and injury and employers must ensure they identify what safety precautions they need to take and then implement them.”
HSE statistics show that 40 workers were killed and more than 3,400 were seriously injured in falls from height in 2011/12.
A place is ‘at height’ if a person could be injured falling from it, even if it is at or below ground level.
Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”
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