The recent case of Lanes Group which has been fined £500,000 with costs of just under £10,000 after a railway maintenance worker suffered serious injury falling from a ladder, highlights the importance of correct planning and supervision when it comes work at height.
On the day of the incident, the worker wasn’t given a safety briefing before starting work on painting a viaduct arch. During the day he was told to climb a ladder to cut back vegetation that was in the way of their painting. The worker climbed the ladder, then twisted to one side and reached across to the branches. As he did this, the ladder lurched and he fell to the ground. The fall resulted in a punctured lung, 11 broken ribs and collarbone and 13 days in intensive care.
During the case the court heard that the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) investigation found that the work was not properly planned or supervised. If the company had assessed the work properly it would have known that workers were unable to use equipment such as tower scaffolds and MEWPs which were specified in the method statement, and that ladders were also inappropriate for the task as they exposed workers to the risk of falling.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations.
All forms of work at height are dangerous which is why it’s essential that tasks are assessed and planned properly to ensure that correct measures are in place for the work to be carried out safely.
Anyone carrying out the work must also be trained to work at height safely as well as in the selection and use of equipment such as ladders. In this case, had the worker been given the correct training, he might have realised that a ladder was not the right equipment to use.