Engineer technician working at a height and implemently saftegy measures to prevent a workpalce fall

In general, the most serious consequences of a fall from height are felt by the person who’s had the accident. Falls can result in serious, life-changing injuries, and even death. So, it’s essential that employees are given the tools, equipment and resources they need to minimise the risks and stay safe.

However, as well as having significant repercussions for the victim, workplace falls can have long-term consequences for company owners and directors. If the people in charge are found to have acted negligently and failed to protect their team members, they can be punished in a court of law and face hefty fines and other serious consequences.

In a recent case, a company director was sentenced to unpaid work for the part he played in failing to prevent a workplace fall. The story serves as an important warning to company owners and shows just how serious workplace safety really is.

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The Fall

In July 2021, contractor Andrew Smith, 53, was sent out to replace guttering and supply fascia boards and soffits at a local school. While carrying out the work, the ladder he was standing on slipped, causing Smith to fall around 3m to the ground. The workplace fall resulted in a fractured femur, elbow, arm and pelvis.

These significant injuries required a 16-day stay in hospital as well as surgery to attach a metal plate to Smith’s arm and a bolt to his hip. As well as the physical impact of his injuries, the incident is sure to have taken a psychological toll, making future work a lot more challenging.

The Consequences

Smith’s employer, Profascias Ltd, was found to have put insufficient planning into the job. This failure led directly to the accident and resulting injuries. In 2023, the company and its director pleaded guilty to breaching Section 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs, while the director, John Nolan, was given a 12-month community order requiring him to undertake 180 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 in costs.

An Avoidable Incident

One of the most important aspects of this case is that the accident could have been prevented. Crucially, the HSE inspector found that the incident would most likely have been avoided if the company and its director had provided suitable work equipment designed to prevent falls.

A scaffold tower, powered platform or other custom solution would have allowed Smith to access the areas that required work without putting his safety at risk. What’s more, providing this equipment would have cost his employer far less than the resulting fines, and allowed them to give their team members the support, care and resources they deserve.

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Cutting corners on dangerous jobs that require employees to work from height is reckless and can have serious consequences for both the team member and their employer. To learn more, and find out about our extensive range of working at height solutions, get in touch with a member of our expert team today.

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