The recent prosecution of Volvo highlights the importance of ensuring staff are trained in the correct use of equipment, particularly when it involves work at height, and how even a relatively low level fall can have devastating consequences.
The national truck, bus and plant division of Volvo has been fined £900,000 after a worker fell from a stepladder and suffered head injuries.
The worker was servicing a delivery truck and repairing the driver’s access rope for the cab when he fell, hit his head and lost consciousness. He was placed in a medically induced coma for two weeks and still suffers from ongoing complications which means he's been unable to return to work.
The HSE investigation into the incident found the stepladder he was using did not belong to Volvo and had not been maintained or checked to see if it was safe to use, unfortunately it turned out it was in fact damaged and its anti-slip feet were worn. In addition, staff had not been trained on how to select, inspect and use access equipment for work at height.
Volvo UK pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £900,000 with costs and a victim surcharge.
Following the case the HSE inspector said, “This worker suffered life changing injuries that could have been prevented by simple health and safety precautions. For two weeks his family was told to prepare for the worst as he was placed in an induced coma to help manage the swelling on his brain. This case is not about banning ladders, on many occasions they are the right equipment to use when working at height, it is about companies ensuring they properly maintain their work at height equipment and train their workers on how to inspect them and select the correct tools for the job. As this case shows, even a fall from a relatively small height can have devastating consequences.”
Around two million ladders are used daily in the UK and over a third of all reported fall from height incidents involve ladders and stepladders. If ladders and stepladders are being used it's essential that they're inspected frequently to ensure they remain safe to work with. As with any type of equipment, staff must be trained on the correct use and how to inspect a ladder before use to ensure it's is fit for purpose.