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CLIENT HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR CONTRACTOR RISK ASSESSMENT

Client and contractor fined for using stepladder rather than mobile platform

MB Air Systems Ltd and GT Precision Products Ltd have been prosecuted after a pipe fitter fell from a stepladder during installation of pipework to a compressed air distribution system in Peterlee during December 2010.

Peterlee Magistrates Court heard (26 July) that the existing pipework requiring alteration was some 3m above floor level and the workman used a stepladder for access. During the work he ‘lost his balance’ and grabbed a lever valve which opened and released a jet of compressed air. The open pipe swung round and knocked him from the stepladder. He sustained fractures to his skull and eye socket plus bruising to his brain and internal bruising.  

HSE investigators found that a risk assessment by MB Air Systems Ltd was provided to GT Precision Products Ltd stating that a powered access platform e.g. scissor lift, would be used for this type of task. However, the platform was not provided and the workman was left to make his own arrangements. He obtained the stepladder from GT Precision Products Ltd.

Work of contractors must be properly monitored

MB Air Systems Ltd, of Lanarkshire, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,196.50 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to ensure the risk assessment was correctly implemented.

GT Precision Products Ltd, of Peterlee, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,196.50 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Paul Miller, said:

“This incident could have easily been prevented if the appropriate access equipment, as identified by the risk assessment, had been provided by the employer MB Air Systems. Equally, GT Precision Products Ltd should not have allowed the work to commence without the proper access equipment.

Falls from height are a major cause of death and serious injury in the workplace. The consequences affect not only the victims, but their families and the community, and thus work at height should be carefully planned, the right equipment identified and used. Where companies have contractors on site, the work of contractors must also be properly monitored.”

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