Lightning strikes twice for ladder-fall worker05 October 2012
A worker at a truck body shop suffered life-changing injuries after falling off a stepladder, which took place only a month after he suffered minor injuries in an identical incident.
The 51-year-old was working at Chelmer Truck Bodies Ltd’s workshop in Boreham, near Chelmsford, when the most recent incident took place on 27 January this year.
He was standing on a stepladder to spray-paint a lorry, when one of the feet on the ladder slipped down a grille in the concrete floor. He fell two metres and suffered a multitude of injuries, which included a shattered left shoulder and collarbone, several broken ribs and a deep cut in his head. He is unable to work owing to his injuries and still suffers considerable pain in his shoulder.
The HSE investigated the incident and identified the company had failed to provide a safe working platform. HSE inspector Kim Tichias also learned that the same worker suffered bruising a month earlier, when he fell off a stepladder while spray-painting a different vehicle. He reported the incident to his manager but it was not recorded in the company’s accident book, and no action was taken to ensure the work was carried out safely in the future.
On 2 February, the HSE issued a Prohibition Notice to Chelmer Truck Bodies, which ordered it to stop spray-painting vehicles until a safe system of work was created.
Inspector Tichias said: “One of Chelmer Truck Bodies’ employees has suffered life-changing injuries because the company failed to do anything to improve safety when he fell off a stepladder a month earlier.
“The dangers of carrying out work at height are well-known and the company should have provided secure working platforms rather than giving employees lightweight stepladders.
“If the firm had planned the work properly and made changes following the previous incident, then the worker's injuries could have been avoided.”
Chelmer Truck Bodies was found guilty in its absence following a trial at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on 3 October. It was found guilty of breaching reg.4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £7500 and ordered to pay £4923 in costs.
The company has gone into voluntary liquidation and hasn’t carried out any spray-painting since the incident.
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