The recent case of a Birmingham shopfitting firm which was fined £7,000 with costs of over £1,000 after a worker broke eight ribs in a ladder fall highlights the importance of experience and training when it comes to working at height.
In this case person worked in the shopfitting firm's factory, however as there was little work at the time the company decided to use the factory workers to carry out refurbishment work rather than implement a three-day week with reduced wages.
The untrained worker, who was removing electrical cabling and conduits within the factory's roof space, was working off one half of an extendable ladder which was footed by a colleague. He was using both hands to saw through a section of pipe when he overbalanced and fell around 3.6m to the floor below, breaking several ribs and sustaining cuts and lacerations to his body.
The HSE investigation found that neither the injured worker nor his colleagues had any experience of working at height, had been given no training and the equipment being used was not suitable for the task. In addition, the company had failed to organise, plan and supervise the work appropriately.
Commenting on the case the HSE inspector said: "The company failed to effectively organise and plan the work, gave them an inadequate ladder to use rather than a more suitable aluminium tower and failed to appropriately supervise and monitor what was going on. Untrained and inexperienced employees were left to their own devices to get on with the job, one they felt compelled to perform rather than being laid-off with reduced wages."
Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states that: “Every employer shall ensure that work at height is (a) properly planned; (b) appropriately supervised; and (c) carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe, and that its planning includes the selection of work equipment in accordance with regulation 7.”
Ladder falls are preventable. Easi-Dec offers a range of accessories and innovative safety solutions to overcome many of the inherent dangers of ladder working.
Read our Blog Ladder Safety a Step in the Right Direction for an overview of how to ensure work on ladders can be carried out safely