A company has been ordered to pay out more than £35,000 after an employee was injured in an accident at work.
The 22-year-old man, who does not wish to be named, suffered multiple fractures when he fell eight metres from a roof while working at a house in Highbury, North London.
Access ladder not long enough
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that the trainee worker broke two vertebrae, his left ankle and wrist, fractured his pelvis and tore ligaments in the incident on December 3 last year.
He was part of a team fitting a flue liner down a chimney at the house so that a wood burning stove could be installed.
Magistrates heard that the trainee tried to slide together an extendable roof ladder, while balanced at the top of the access ladder against the house.
But the access ladder was not long enough to clear the guttering and didn’t extend to a point where the he could step off safely.
As the roof ladder began to slip away in his hands, it pulled him off the access ladder. With nothing to hold on to, the worker fell three storeys to the ground below.
Accident ‘entirely preventable’
Following the accident, investigators from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified a number of safety failings at the site.
The man’s employer Nature’s Power Ltd was found guilty of two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
The firm, based at High Street, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £5,840 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Keith Levart said the access ladder had been used unsafely and Nature’s Power had failed to plan the work properly.
He added: “If used correctly, access and roof ladders can provide safe access to chimneys. However, this one could not clear the guttering, which led to this entirely preventable incident and a trainee worker suffering serious injuries. It is only a matter of good fortune that these injuries were not fatal.”
Figures released by the HSE show that more than 3,400 workers were seriously injured in falls from height last year.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: August 9, 2013
Author: David Brown