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March 8, 2021

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Company fined after worker suffered fall from height injuries

Country Style Foods Ltd has been sentenced for safety breaches after a worker was impaled upon a set of ‘airline’ style steps.

The employee was working at height on a set of steps to reach and clean the top oven in a stack of horizontal ovens. He slipped whilst on the working platform of these steps and became impaled upon a section of the handrail, Leeds Magistrates’ Court was told. He suffered a torn artery and nerve damage resulting in hospitalisation for several days. The incident happened on 18 September 2017.

The HSE’s investigation found that the steps had been adapted for a different task, which created an additional risk when used for this work. Whilst a scissor lift was present on the site, the employee involved was not trained in its use.

Country Style Foods Ltd of Pontefract Lane, Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £11,589 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Darian Dundas said: “The company failed to appropriately plan and supervise work at height leading to it being undertaken using a set of steps, which were inappropriate for the task.

“This incident was easily preventable, and the risk should have been more clearly identified and appropriately addressed. HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies that fail to implement safe systems of work.”

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.

Barbour EHS

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