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LOW FALL COMES WITH HIGHER PRICE

Injury and unsafe working combine to land steeplejacks in court

A Stoke-on-Trent firm of steeplejacks has been ordered to pay £13k in fines and prosecution costs after a workman fell 1.5m from a tower scaffold and fractured his leg.

The injury occurred during dismantling the tower at the end of the job. He had lowered a board down from the upper level when he slipped and fell suffering a serious fracture to the heel of his left foot. He needed pins inserted into the bone and spent 16 weeks in plaster.

Magistrates heard how Rafferty Chimneys Engineering Ltd  were contracted to inspect four 20m steel chimneys and the tower scaffold was used to access the eaves of the roof.

Tower defects not the only problem

Following the accident an HSE investigation revealed that the tower guard rail was too low, the correct boards were not used and toe boards were not in place. During the project two workers walked across a fragile asbestos sheet roof using inadequate width boards and no safety measures  to prevent  falls.

Equipment was carried equipment back and forth throughout the day despite the potential for falling nearly 4m to the workshop below.

HSE inspector Guy Dale said:

Working at height is the most common cause of workplace injuries and this incident shows the very real dangers, no matter what the distance to the ground. With the right equipment and a proper risk assessment this could have been prevented.

There were so many instances and potential for falls throughout the day leading up to this event that it was lucky both men weren’t involved in serious injuries.”

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