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£53,000 fine after fatal fall from insecure ladder

A roofing contractor has been prosecuted by the HSE after a worker died when he fell from a ladder while exiting scaffolding.

Image credit: HSE

Joseph Kane, an employee of Aberdeen-based firm Henderson and Aitken, fell from the top rungs of the ladder after it slipped sideways in Jute Street in the city on 21 September 2016.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that the platform had been erected by a colleague even though he was not a qualified or competent scaffolder. The ladder was tied, using a blue nylon cord, to the scaffold ledger at only the left stile. He had been told to do this by the company director who was aware he was unqualified. The director then allowed three people to access the structure.

It is vitally important that those planning and arranging for such work give sufficient regard to the risks posed to workers and members of the public through their actions

 

A specialist HSE inspector estimated the lateral movement of the ladder due to the lack of fixity was approximately 20cm. Kane died of multiple injuries.

The firm admitted failing to ensure scaffolding was erected by a competent person and that it was erected safely with sufficient protection to prevent a person falling, contrary to regulation 4 of Work at Height Regulations 2005. It also pleaded guilty to breaching s 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act in that it failed to ensure there was a safe means of access to and from the scaffolding platform.

The company, which employs fewer than ten people, was ordered to pay a fine of £53,000.

Speaking after the sentencing this week, HSE principal inspector Niall Miller said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.

“This tragic and preventable death highlights the need for those undertaking work at height to ensure that it is carried out safely, that industry guidance is followed and that the relevant regulations are complied with. It is vitally important that those planning and arranging for such work give sufficient regard to the risks posed to workers and members of the public through their actions.” 

 

Kellie is a freelance writer and former online editor of the Health and Safety at Work website.

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