September 6, 2017

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In-court

£1m fine after worker dies following ladder fall

A Hull-based bakery has been ordered to pay a fine of £1million after a self-employed contractor died when he fell from a stepladder.

Hull Crown Court was told that the worker was contracted to complete electrical work at Greencore Grocery Ltd site in Hull in October 2013. The worker was wiring a motor situated above a machine whilst standing on a stepladder. The company agreed this work activity could be completed using a stepladder, which it had provided. The employee fell from the stepladder and suffered fatal injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation found that Greencore failed to properly plan the activity from the beginning including access arrangements to be made for installation of motors to use to carry out this work activity.

Greencore Grocery Ltd of Apex Park, Amsterdam Road, Sutton Fields Industrial Estate Hull, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The company was fined £1million and ordered to pay costs of £30,000.

Most common work-related fatality

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Denise Fotheringham said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in Great Britain, the risks associated with working at height are well known.

“Work at height regulations require that all work at height is properly planned and appropriate access is provided. If Greencore had carried this out this death could have been prevented.

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Ray Rapp
Ray Rapp
3 years ago

While there is not a lot of detail in the article I am surprised at the level of fine. Surely, the self-employed contractor had some responsibility to ensure he adopted a SSoW?

Stephen
Stephen
3 years ago
Reply to  Ray Rapp

I agee, the level of the fine seems very high in comparison to other fatal accidents. Example, another story on this website has a fine at just £285k for a death and they were found to have been in breach of multiple health and safety issues.

Still, high fines are good. Pinching this story as an example.

Tracey Jeffries
Tracey Jeffries
3 years ago
Reply to  Ray Rapp

The onus was on the company to check that the contractor had a SSoW. This is the basis of the regulations. The company shouldn’t have just assumed they knew what they were doing.

Nigel Bown
Nigel Bown
3 years ago

another example of failing to plan work at height

Ray Rapp
Ray Rapp
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Bown

Indeed, but was the bakery solely at fault?

Adebayo Olaleye
Adebayo Olaleye
3 years ago
Reply to  Ray Rapp

I believe the employer has the responsibility to provide a safe system of work. I believe the employer failed in this regards. Had it being the employer provided this together with the necessary equipments either fall protection system or fall prevention system and the self employed contractor (employee) failed to follow it, that would have being the fault of the self employed contractor. Fall is the leading cause of fatality in workplace and there should be a consideration as regards to that.

Safetylady
Safetylady
3 years ago

Self-employed contractor is the status mentioned.
In that case, they are contracted, not employed, and their own employer, (and their own employee!) not an employee of the baking company.
The ‘person’ you refer to as the employer is better termed the client.
So whose duty is it to devise the safe system of work? In an employed situation – the employer. But in this case, technically, the contractor. But it appears the client may have taken undue control and became the ’employer’ by default in so doing.

Paul Philbin
Paul Philbin
3 years ago

Agree about the level of fine. £1m sounds high so can only imagine that there was more to it. Who supplied the stepladder, was it suitable? Etc

Adebayo Olaleye
Adebayo Olaleye
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Philbin

Before work could be done at height, one needs to ascertain the level of the height, thereafter, the RIGHT equipment can now be chosen. A work that actually lead to fatality is actually far greater than 6ft and step ladder would not be suitable.

Rees Davies
Rees Davies
3 years ago

I beleive the prosecution being under HASWA section 3 (1) was because the bakery had control over the activity and could have insisted on alternative access. Also looking at HSE website the Associated Octel case is an example as the contractor was supplied the equipment by the client as in this case.
I dont suppose you can get much more culpable than that so this could be why the fine is high and may be comparative to the bakery’s turnover as per the sentancing guidelines?

Steve Rex
Steve Rex
3 years ago

According to the Daily Mail, Hull, they state: Mr Shanks suffered a serious head injury in the fall, which happened when he “over-reached” and placed one foot on the cantilever lid of the machine he was working on, which moved, while his other foot was on the top of the 5ft 6ins step-ladder.

It just shows that even falling from what would be considered a relatively low height, accidents can be fatal.

Duncan Carmichael
Duncan Carmichael
3 years ago

Yes, more detail needed. What would be the outcome if the self employed contractor brought his own step ladder?

Niel
Niel
3 years ago

The companies history looks ‘interesting’, with lots of name changes and changes of Directors, and they appear to be ‘known’ to the HSE. http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr450.pdf Pages 231-241

Murphy
Murphy
3 years ago

That’s a lot of dough!

Safetylady
Safetylady
3 years ago

Prosecution under s3 HASAWA – no WaH specific regulation cited. There must have been more to this – article hints the company agreed (‘approved’?) the method AND provided the stepladder.

Barry Cooper
Barry Cooper
3 years ago

The bakery provided the stepladder, and so in effect managed the way the work was done, so took the responsibility for the work. Still think the fine was a bit steep, as the self employed contractor surely had responsibility for his own safety

Geetu Nayar
Geetu Nayar
3 years ago

There is still a prevailing attitude in many SME’s for side-lining risk assessments and proper planning for work at height, especially when it looks easy from the ground level.

People tend to assume that step ladders are inherently safe. I think companies where there is the hazard of work at height should clearly define what equipment is to be used at what height and the control systems to be implemented, irrespective of what a contractor has to offer.

Paul Cookson
Paul Cookson
3 years ago

Has anyone else noticed there seems to be a gulf appearing in fines lately. There have been a few lately that have been quite a lot lower than expected in the last couple months and then some really large fines for not too dissimilar cases. Obviously i’m aware of how the fines are set, but increasingly it looks more to do with luck as to who is judging the case. Be interesting to see a map detailing levels of fines around the country.

Anne Marie
Anne Marie
3 years ago

If he was self-employed should he not have assessed the most suitable way of working?

David Williams
David Williams
3 years ago

In relation to the annual turnover of the organization, which was £1,481.9 million in the 2016 financial year, according to Greencore’s website, the £1 million fine wasn’t particularly high. It equates to about 0.06748% of the company’s annnual turnover. If they’d had a more modest £50 million annual turnover, a fine of similar proportions would have been a trifling £33,740.

Ray Rapp
Ray Rapp
3 years ago
Reply to  David Williams

The level of fine should reflect the turnover of the organisation, the culpability of the offender and the inherent of risk. Working off step ladders is not prohibited and for many tasks a sensible means of working at height. What the exact involvement of the bakery was I could not say. However, if they insisted on the method of working from a step ladder and it was unsafe, then they deserve all they get. That said, bakerys are not normally experts on the installation of equipment and should have requested RAMS for the task and by doing so probably avoiding… Read more »

Steve C
Steve C
1 year ago

A lot of discussion who was at fault. Read Section 3.1 HASAWA and it should be clear.