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    Contractor fined for failing to provide scaffold or safe system

    Roofcare Roofing and Building Contractors (David Faulkner T/A) has been prosecuted after a decorator suffered severe injuries in a 2m fall from an untied ladder placed in a dangerous manner on a curved section of ironwork.

    Alan Beutner, 58 was decorating the exterior of a house in Plymouth on 15 June, 2011 when the ladder twisted free and he fell onto the concrete path below. He subsequently died of medical complications, leaving a widow and three children.

    Plymouth Magistrates heard (17 January) scaffolding had not been provided for the job and the ladder was not tied and twisted free from the curved ironwork causing him to fall.

    Mr Beutner was taken to hospital and discharged later the same day with five fractured ribs and surface fractures to his spinal vertebrae. He was readmitted to hospital the next day with severe pain where it was discovered he had internal injuries. Despite two emergency operations he died in hospital on 24 June.

    HSE investigators found the ladder was a domestic type with a maximum safe working load of 95kg and not a more robust trade ladder which should have been used. Mr Beutner weighed 110kg.

    The work should have been carried out from a scaffold to prevent the risk of falls but failing that Mr Faulkner should have ensured the ladder was securely braced and tied to the building.

    Seemingly simple ladder task

    David Faulkner, of Cattedown Road, Cattedown, Plymouth pleaded guilty to an offence under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

    Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Martin Lee, said:

    “Mr Beutner suffered terrible injuries in this entirely preventable tragedy. This incident shows how seemingly simple tasks using a ladder can quickly turn into a serious incident if basic safety measures are not followed, such as securing the ladder to the building.

    If ladders are used to carry out work at height, no matter how short the job, it’s vital the task is carefully planned, the equipment chosen is suitably strong and can be secured and used safely.

    The risk of falls from ladders is well known and is a regular cause of injury and death. Safety standards are well known and suitable equipment is readily available and not prohibitively expensive.”

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