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The injured fitter was working for HPAS (which trades as Safestyle UK) as part of a team of five operatives carrying out a full window and door replacement job at a house in Doncaster, Yorkshire, on 1 March 2017.
As the fitter was carrying a window frame up to the first-floor rear bedroom window, his ladder slipped from under him and he fell more than 3 m. He broke a knee cap which required surgery, Sheffield Magistrates' Court was told.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the ladder, which had been resting on a polished tile effect concrete floor, was not footed or tied to a suitable point.
Inspector Stuart Whitesmith told IOSH Magazine: "The ladder appeared to be last safety inspected by Safestyle in 2009. From our point of view that was indicative of the poor checking systems in place."
He served an improvement notice against Safestyle over its failure to ensure work at height was safely carried out and appropriately supervised. "It was an area of concern that ladders were being routinely used in a way that constituted serious risk," Whitesmith said.
According to the Glass and Glazing Federation's Code of Practice for Working at Height in the Domestic Replacement Window Industry (bit.ly/2HujieK), windows should be installed from inside the building if possible.
Whitesmith said scaffold is the obvious alternative when outside access is needed, but "in this case it was reasonably practicable to carry out the installation internally".
He highlighted HSE guidance INDG455, Safe Use of Ladders and Stepladders, which states: "Short duration is not the deciding factor in establishing whether use of a ladder is acceptable or not -- you should have first considered the risk."
Safestyle complied with the HSE's enforcement notice by improving its arrangements for planning and managing work at height. It now ensures that there is a lead installer on every team to oversee the work. If window installations cannot be completed inside a property, working platforms with guardrails are used.
The company was fined and ordered to pay £1,083 costs after it pleaded guilty to breaching reg 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations. (See table below for District Judge Redhouse's application of the sentencing guidelines.)
In its 2017 annual report, published only 13 days before the judgment, Safetstyle UK plc anticipated a fine of between £550,000 and £2.9m but noted that, because the final penalty could not be stated, the management had made noOne of the UK's largest window installation firms has been fined £850,000 after a worker fell from a leaning ladder that had been last inspected eight years ago. The penalty represents just over 6% of the firm's £13.8m profit before tax in the previous financial year.
Hammersmith, London-based contactor PVAD was extending a basement at a site in Montholme Road near Wandsworth Common, south London, when the HSE visited in March 2017 and identified serious breaches.There was no edge protection in several areas, including at the site entrance where workers could fall 4 m into the basement. The contractor had also installed unsafe “home-made” ramps.The inspector found the site lavatory did not have a cistern to flush and washing facilities consisted of a cold water outdoor tap and bucket, with no soap or towel.
Window and door fitter Stuart Barnes, which had been contracted to undertake the roof replacement work, was fined £8,000 for failing to plan it safely. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that 27-year-old Luke Maslen was working on the garage roof when the incident occurred at Courtlands in Portland, Dorset on 5 January 2016. The fragile structure gave way and he fell almost 2 m, sustaining a serious fracture to his upper spine.
Paul Welstead, who had been subcontracted from a third company, DRH, was carrying out remedial painting works when he fell around 3 m through a suspended ceiling into a waiting room at East Croydon railway station on 7 January 2015.Croydon Crown Court heard on 18 April that the companies had agreed a £12m contract with Network Rail to undertake the replacement of station floor surfaces, canopy roofs and cladding.
The roofer, whose fall was broken by a plastic children’s playhouse, sustained a traumatic brain injury, bruising, and damage to his left arm.Poor weather conditions meant that the roofer had to work on the unprotected area to cover the dormer extension and make sure it was watertight. He was at the dormer’s side when the accident happened on 29 October 2015. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the scaffolding did not extend fully across the intended work area and failed to provide protection along the edge where the roofer was working.