Three separate ‘falls from heights’ incidents have been the subject of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecutions in recent weeks – highlighting the renewed need for employers to ensure they have stringent workplace safety procedures in place.
In July this year, a scaffolding company and one of its directors were both fined after a labourer fell 20 feet while constructing scaffolding outside a house in St Albans.
Magistrates heard how St Albans Scaffolding Ltd had failed to ensure the worker – who suffered multiple fractures to his right leg and ankle in the incident – had received the training he needed to install scaffolding properly. The company was fined £5,500, whilst the director was ordered to pay more than £900.
In a separate court hearing in July, again involving an incident in St Albans, the HSE successfully prosecuted a housing developer after a 60-year-old electrical contractor fell off a ladder, through an opening and down to the lower floor of a house.
St Albans Crown Court heard how the worker broke his spine in three places and was paralysed from the chest down. He died three years later as a result of respiratory failure and pneumonia linked to the catastrophic injuries he suffered from the fall.
Developers, Meadows WR LLP of London, were fined £10,000 after admitting health and safety breaches including a failure to plan, manage and monitor the work to the required standard.
Most recently, in August, two building contractors appeared in court for sentencing following the death of a 42-year-old worker.
Bournemouth Crown Court heard how a sub-contractor working on a roof on behalf of Quality 1st Building Services Ltd died as a result of head injuries, following a 23 foot fall.
An investigation by the HSE found neither the principal contractor for the site, E.P. Abley Ltd, nor Quality 1st Building Services Ltd had ensured the roof work being undertaken had the correct edge protection to prevent falls from height occurring.
It was also found both companies failed to clearly communicate and co-ordinate the work being undertaken on the site in a safe and appropriate manner.
Quality 1st Building Services Ltd was fined £40,000 whilst E.P. Abley Ltd received a £26,667 fine.
Lara Murray, an Associate Solicitor and health and safety legal specialist, said: “These cases illustrate how a failure to protect workers from known hazardous situations, resulted in one man being seriously injured and two individuals needlessly losing their lives.
“The hefty fines handed out by the courts reflect the severity of these health and safety breaches.
“The companies involved should have been well aware of the risks posed but failed in their duties to protect their workers or sub-contractors from harm.
“Any employer that exposes their workers to potential risks, especially tasks carried out at height, should learn from these cases and ensure that their employees are properly protected.”