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Christmas decoration stowing ladder fall sees social club in court

A Staffordshire social club has been fined after a volunteer fell from a ladder while putting away Christmas decorations.

Christmas decoration stowing ladder fall sees social club in court

Roger Ingleby, a member of Lea Hall Social Club in Rugeley, was putting extra decorations back in the club’s loft on 29 November 2015 when the loft ladder gave way dropping him two metres on to a staircase. He was taken to hospital and subsequently underwent several operations, but his injuries cut short his career as a civil engineer.

Cannock Chase Council’s health and safety inspector Emily MacKinnon found the loft ladder was badly maintained. The club had not followed its own risk assessments and did not provide volunteers with information and training on safe working at height. No one was tasked with responsibility for safety and health.

Lea Hall Social Club originated as the miner’s club for workers at the Lea Hall Colliery, which operated between 1960 and 1991. The club is home to the Leah Hall brass band, the Staffordshire Regiment Association and the Rugeley Dancing Club.

At Cannock Magistrates Court on 4 December, District Judge Strongman fined Lea Hall Social Club £20,000 for breaching s 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and ordered the company to pay costs of £17,000.

“We recognise that social clubs play a valuable role in the community by providing entertainment and charitable activities,” said the council’s head of economic prosperity, Dean Piper, who oversees environmental health, “but that sometimes there is a lack of expertise in health and safety among those that manage and oversee these community assets.” 

Since the incident the council has worked with the club’s management to ensure it has adequate risk assessments, training and maintenance checks to safeguard volunteers and staff.

Louis Wustemann is editor, IOSH Magazine. He was previously editor of Health and Safety at Work magazine and Environment in Business. He has written, edited and consulted on health and safety, environmental and employment matters for more than 25 years.

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