3 Feb 2011

Businessman prosecuted after worker breaks back in fall from faulty ladder

A Lancashire businessman has been sentenced after one of his employees broke his back when he fell off a ladder.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Michael Wilson following the incident at Roadferry Transport Yard on Carr Lane in Farington, Leyland, on 3 March 2010.

South Ribble Magistrates' Court in Leyland heard that the man, who has asked not to be named, had climbed up a ladder at the commercial vehicle garage to reach the release mechanism for a lorry cab. The employee fell to the ground when the ladder slipped, causing him to break a vertebrae in his spine. He is still unable to return to work, nearly a year after the incident.

The HSE investigation found the ladder had missing feet at both ends, the bottom rung was damaged and it appeared to have been cut off at the top.

Michael Wilson, trading as M Wilson Commercials, admitted breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) by failing to make sure the ladder was well maintained. He was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £2,000 on 2 February 2011.

Matt Lea, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

"One of Mr Wilson's employees was badly injured because he was given an unsafe ladder to use. It should have been checked in advance to make sure it was suitable.

"The employee had not received any training on working at height or with ladders, despite regularly needing to do it as part of his job. He therefore simply used the nearest available ladder.

"Sadly, this worker is just one of hundreds of people who are injured every year as a result of falling from ladders. Falling a short distance can still result in someone being seriously injured."

On average, 12 people a year die after falling from ladders in British workplaces, and more than 1,200 suffer major injuries.

HSE Bulletin No: HSE/NW/78Wilson
(Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

The use of our Good to Go Safety system could have prevented this accident from happening. Our ladder tag and ladder checklist can help ensure a pre-use inspection is made - checking that feet are in place, rungs are not damaged or missing etc. These basic checks would probably have prevented this accident from happening - in addition a duplicate copy of each completed checklist would provide clear evidence that a safe equipment management system (SEMS) was in place. Good to Go Safety helps employers to comply with PUWER and WAHR regulations and provides employees with peace of mind that the equipment they are using is 'good to go'. Click here for more information about our ladder inspection systems.

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