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3m ladder fall earns company £850,000 fine

11 April 2018

Be carful how you use ladders. After an employee was injured in a 3m fall from an unsecured ladder a company has been fined £850,000 for a health & safety breach.

Watch out when using ladders. A Bradford window installation company has just been fined £850,000 with £1,083 costs after an employee fell 3m from a ladder that was not footed or tied in place.

The company is Safestyle UK, of Style House, Eldon Place, Bradford, which this month (April) pleaded guilty at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court to breaching Regulation 4(1) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The court heard how, on 1 March 2017, a window installer working for HPAS Ltd (trading as Safestyle UK) was attempting to install a first-floor rear bedroom window at a property on Cemetery Road, Doncaster, when the ladder he was climbing slipped. The ladder was not footed or tied and the operative fell from a height of more than 3m. He suffered a broken knee cap, which required surgery.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the company’s system for planning work at height was inadequate in that it failed to ensure work was carried out in a safe manner. Windows were not routinely installed from inside properties and ladders were used in a way that constituted a serious risk to the users. Nor was there any system of monitoring or supervision in place. Operatives were simply left to their own devices.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stuart Whitesmith said: "This incident could easily have been prevented had the company implemented reasonably practicable precautions." 

He said those precautions could have included installing windows from interiors, where possible. If they had to be installed from the outside suitable access platforms with edge protection should have been used. The Inspector also said there should have been a formal system of appropriate supervision in place.

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