Prosecution for failing to plan work at height

A chemical company has been fined £120,000 with over £5,000 in costs after a worker fell from a ladder at one of its sites.

The worker was using a ladder to inspect a steam leak when the ladder failed, and the employee fell to the ground.

The subsequent HSE investigation found that the company had failed to ensure that work at height was properly planned and managed and that it also did not ensure that equipment provided for use at height was inspected at regular intervals and was fit for use.

As a result the company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which places a duty on employers “to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

Commenting after the hearing, the HSE inspector Carol Forster said: “Work at height accidents are one of the main causes of occupational injury and death. Employers should consider if working at height can be avoided and, if work at height is undertaken, it should be properly planned and managed appropriately and all equipment should be fit for purpose.”

The Safesite Way

All work at height should be planned properly to ensure it is carried out safely and appropriate equipment used.  Anyone using equipment must be competent to do so, which means they've had the appropriate training and are able to put that training into practice.  Before using equipment, particularly ladders, a pre-use check must be carried out. In the case of ladders this would include looking for any obvious visual defects to ensure the ladder is safe to use.


Further Information

A few easy steps to ladder safety

How not to work at height

Safesite's ladder safety training course

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