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October 14, 2009

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Failure to install barriers lands firm with GBP 10,000 fine

A worker was seriously injured after falling 10ft from a storage unit, which didn’t have edge protection.

Dudley Magistrates’ Court, sitting on 12 October, heard that John Fisher, 52, was working as a storage-rack assembler for West Midlands Installations Ltd. On 7 July 2008, he was installing a walk-in storage unit at Toolbank Specialists Services Ltd’s warehouse in Halesowen.

Mr Fisher had finished assembling the first floor of the unit, and was attaching a joist to the top, to install a chipboard roof. The first floor had storage racks attached on two sides, and he was standing on a stepladder in the aisle between the racking. The end of the aisle had no edge protection, and the ladder was positioned next to the edge.

As he was installing the joists, Mr Fisher lost balance and fell over the edge, landing on the concrete floor 10 feet below. He sustained four broken ribs, and minor injuries to his head and neck, and was unable to return to work for a month.

West Midlands Installations pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974, for which it was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £7561. The firm had no previous convictions, and mitigated that it had installed edge protection to the unit immediately after the incident. It also now ensures that workers wear lanyards when working on the roof of the storage units.

HSE inspector Tariq Khan said: “While the injuries suffered were serious, they could have been much worse. A fall from this kind of height can be fatal.

“Whenever anyone is working at height, their employers need to ensure there is protection around the edges to warn of the dangers and prevent falls. It is something that can be easily implemented and could, ultimately, save lives and money.”

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