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Can you afford a fall from height?


As an employer it is your responsibility to ensure that you employees are working at height safely. Not only is this a risk to the well being of your team but it also a rick to your bottom line.

This recent case highlights the consequence of inadequate work at height provision:

"A building firm from Stratford-upon-Avon has been prosecuted after a worker suffered severe injuries when he fell from a damaged scaffolding plank at a site in South Warwickshire.

The 62-year-old man, Frederick Stuart, from Stratford-upon-Avon, was standing on a single piece of scaffolding board to cut through a pole at the site at Dark Lane, Tiddington, when the wood snapped, Leamington Spa Magistrates' Court heard.

He plummeted nearly two and a half metres and ended up straddling a joist, breaking his pelvis in two places and cutting his left thigh almost half way through the muscle.

The court heard he was off work for six months following the incident on 28 July 2010 and has been left with a permanent scar on his thigh.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the man's employer, Sibbasbridge Ltd, after an investigation revealed that in addition to the scaffolding being damaged, the company had not provided any edge protection for work at height, or installed any equipment to lessen the impact of a fall, such as bags or netting, in the area where the man had been working.

No risk assessments or method of work statements were produced or shown to workers before the incident.

HSE inspector Paul Thompson said after the hearing:

"Mr Stuart suffered very serious injuries in this incident, which would not have happened if Sibbasbridge had changed its working practices following a previous prosecution for a similar failing.

"A damaged scaffolding board collapsed underneath the man, causing him to fall into an area that hadn't even been boarded out.

"The company did nothing to prevent falls from the scaffolding plank or reduce the risk of serious injury in the event of a fall.

"Clear guidance on working at height is available from HSE and it is regrettable that the company failed to follow this."

Sibbasbridge Ltd, of Evesham Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, pleaded guilty today to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,353 costs."

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