Kemlows Die Casting Products Ltd has been prosecuted after a young workman was injured when he fell whilst using a dangerous system of work at height at the company Hertfordshire factory in July 2012.
Hertford Magistrates were told (8th Jan) that workers accessed the light fittings using a goods ‘stillage’ (cage without fork channels) which was not designed to carry people.
The stillage was raised into position by a fork lift truck and after 2 or 3 hours into the job the stillage became so unstable that it fell with the worker inside. The cage landed on the concrete floor 3m below injuring the workman who was still standing in the stillage. HSE investigators found that the stillage was not secured to the fork lift truck.
The court heard that this system of working at heights had been adopted on a regular basis for annual summer shutdown tasks since at least 2005. The company also used a similar system to carry out other maintenance activities, such as fitting pipework.
Failure to use the “right equipment” inexcusable
Kemlows Die Casting Products Ltd, of Hertford, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £3,500 costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.
“This incident should never have happened. The company was using a totally inappropriate system of work for the task, which put various employees at risk of serious injury or even death from falling from height over a number of years.
At the highest point the stillage was lifted around three metres from the ground and the worker is fortunate not to have been more seriously injured.
The company had more than enough time to hire suitable lifting equipment, such as a mobile elevated work platform. There is no excuse not to use the right equipment and systems of work to do the job, and ensure there are adequate measures to prevent workers from falling from heights likely to cause injury.”