Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

January 27, 2015

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Industrial estate managers fined after ‘serious failures’ are reported by passer-by

Image - Industrial estate managers fined after ‘serious failures’ are reported by passer-by[1] copyTwo men who manage a Morecambe industrial estate have each been fined after they were seen fixing a street light whilst balancing on 15 wooden pallets attached to a forklift truck, with no fall prevention.

Jonathan Shaw, 44, of Bailrigg Lane in Lancaster and Stephen Fawcett, 69, of Newby Court in Newby, were reported to Lancaster City Council following the incident at Vickers Industrial Estate.

To reach the light, which was approximately nine metres high, the men had attached 15 wooden pallets to a forklift truck. On the top of the pallets was a metal cage, specifically designed to be attached to the truck, in which Mr Fawcett was standing.

The court heard how:

  • Mr Fawcett had no harness or safety equipment to prevent him from falling;
  • there were no preventative measures in place on the ground to prevent people from coming within dangerous distance of the machinery;
  • the 15 timber pallets and cage were held together by one ratchet-tensioned webbing strap attached around the width of the pallets. There was no strap tying together the pallets and cage from front to back, nor were the pallets positively locked to the forklift truck; and
  • Mr Shaw was at the base of the forklift truck looking up and was in immediate danger if the platform had collapsed.

The council said that this arrangement was at best precarious and at worst reckless, being potentially dangerous to anyone using it or anyone near it.

After considering the potential danger of the incident, and that Mr Fawcett had previously been given health and safety advice and been warned about the dangers of working from height, the council decided to prosecute them both under sections 3(2) and 33(1)(a) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

In a hearing at Lancaster Magistrates’ Court both men pleaded guilty to the offences and were each fined £8,000 fine plus a victim surcharge of £120, together with costs of £1,681.50.

Councillor Karen Leytham, Cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health, said: “Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace deaths and it is crucial that work is properly planned, appropriately supervised and that sufficient measures are put in place to protect both staff and the public.

“The council’s investigation revealed serious and wilful failures to adequately protect persons from serious risk of injury and potential loss of life.”

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