14 Sep 2010

Glass company fined for workers' fall risk

A glass company has been prosecuted for health and safety offences after putting workers' lives at risk at a site in Bradford.

Workers at Intercity Glazing Systems Ltd, based in Drighlington, had been made to work at height without a safe system in place, leaving them at risk of falling up to six metres.

During work at a building in Carlisle Road, Bradford, in May 2009, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company did not properly supervise or manage staff working at height.

Some equipment, including tower scaffolding, was not being used safely, and guardrails were also missing from some parts of the working area. The system of work used by the company to install glass above the ground floor was so unsafe that the work was stopped when HSE served Prohibition Notices on the company.

Intercity Glazing Systems pleaded guilty at Bradford Magistrates' Court today to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,538.

HSE inspector, David Welsh, said:

"In the construction industry falls from height are a serious risk and a major cause of death and life-changing injuries.

"A significant proportion of the falls from height that occur on sites every year result from work where the risks are not being dealt with adequately by proper supervision and control.

"When a business expects work at height to be done using particular work equipment it has a duty to ensure that workers use that equipment safely."

Falls from height are the biggest single cause of workplace deaths in Britain. In 2008/09 there were 35 fatalities and more than 11,700 serious injuries from falls from height at work.

HSE Transcript Source: YH/223/10
(Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

Scaffold towers are frequently used within the workplace, often seen as a safer method of work than ladders. However they can only be considered safe if they have been checked by a competent person and the Good to Go Safety system helps ensure all employees are notified of the findings. To find out more simply click on this link to find out more on how we can improve scaffold tower safety.

On this occasion the HSE identified the dangers before an accident occurred, it is reassuring to see that a prosecution was successful before an injury or accident was encountered. Proactive prosecutions such as this help to send out a positive message and identifies the need for workplace safety systems to be in place.

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