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FOOTING OF LADDER FAILS TO PREVENT FALL

Business park owner fined over ladder fall and management inadequacies

Bridge Mills Ltd, the owners of a Yorkshire business park, have been fined after a workman fractured an ankle when he fell from a ladder whilst carrying out work in disused premises.

The incident occurred when the 68-year-old maintenance worker was removing several heat exchange units from the roof space in a former machine shop in Huddersfield Road.

He was working from the ladder which was being “held by a cleaner” at various heights of some 4-5m when the ladder was “knocked from the cleaner’s hands”. The workman realised he was falling and jumped clear, rolling over to protect himself as best he could.

Kirklees Magistrates were told (7 Jan) HSE found several failings namely:

  • no clear responsibility for health and safety in the company;
  • work at height not planned or organised with no safe system of work in place; and
  • risks not assessed and workers not provided with work-at-height training;

The correct equipment for the job was not provided and the ladder used was not tied at the top or effectively balanced.

Worker safety treated in a ‘vague and haphazard’ manner

Bridge Mills Ltd, which owns and manages the Bridge Mill site in Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth, was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £1,355 in costs after admitting breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jackie Ferguson said:

“The worker was fortunate not to have suffered a far more serious injury – it doesn’t take a fall from a great height to inflict a life-changing injury or even death. The fact that he saw the ladder slipping allowed him to mitigate the potential consequences.

There were several safe methods open to Bridge Mills Ltd for the removal of the heat exchange units, including working from an integrated working platform. Instead, the health and safety of workers was treated in a vague and haphazard manner.

Falls from height remain the biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of injury. Working at height without the right equipment, training or systems is wholly unacceptable and extremely dangerous, and HSE will not hesitate to prosecute when companies put their workers lives at such risk.”

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