£113k fine after worker fell from dangerous MEWP
A luxury bedroom furniture company has been fined £113,000 after an employee fell more than 2m from a makeshift mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) that had already been deemed ‘unacceptable’ in a safety audit report from 2006.
On 1 February 2017, the And So To Bed Ltd employee had been working in the company’s warehouse at Pymore, Bridport, when he fell around seven feet from the make-shift mobile elevated working platform. The platform was attached to a forklift truck and was open sided.
The employee involved sustained injuries to his knee and face.
And So To Bed Ltd pleaded guilty to breaches of Sections 2(1) and 33(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and of Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, in a prosecution brought by West Dorset District Council.
An investigation at the time of the incident by Environment Health officers working for the Council found that the company had poor health and safety practices associated with this work activity including:
- Insufficient risk assessment;
- Inadequate personal protective equipment provided for employees;
- No safe system to address the risk of employees falling from the platform.
A health and safety audit report from as far back as 2006 commented that use of the make-shift platform was “unacceptable”. However the investigation found that despite a safer system being purchased by the company, the dangerous platform had continued to be used on an almost daily basis.
And So To Bed Ltd of Pymore Mills, Pymore, Bridport, Dorset was fined £113,000, ordered to pay costs of £6,924 and a victim surcharge of £170.
In mitigation the judge found that after the accident the company had addressed its health and safety failings and implemented a new health and safety regime.
Cllr Anthony Alford, Leader of West Dorset District Council, said: “I would like to thank our officers for investigating this matter. The health and safety practices of And So To Bed Ltd were simply not good enough. This accident should never have happened and could have been avoided
“Employers should be aware that they have a duty to protect the health and safety of their employees. The district council will consider the option of taking enforcement action when investigating health and safety incidents.
“Good health and safety practice makes good business sense.”
Barbour download: Guide to working at height
Work at any height can cause injury; a fall from a height of just one or two steps can cause serious injury.
The Regulations were amended in 2007 to extend their application to those who work at height providing instruction or leadership to one or more people engaged in caving or climbing by way of sport, recreation, team building or similar activities in Great Britain.
Download your free guide from Barbour to understand: Duties of persons in control of work at height; Duties of persons undertaking work at height; General controls when working at height; Method statement for work at height; Selection of a means of access; Working platforms; Guardrails and toeboards; Ladders Mobile work platforms; Suspended access equipment; Personal suspension equipment and, Inspection of fall arrest equipment.