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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
June 24, 2011

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Mechanic fell 10ft from unsecured ladder

A Blackburn truck company failed to rectify unsafe work-at-height practices that were identified during an audit carried out by a safety consultancy.

JDS Trucks Ltd, which sells and repairs heavy-goods vehicles, appeared at Accrington Magistrates’ Court following an incident at its garage, on 4 December 2009. A 47-year-old mechanic at the garage was assessing whether a wind deflector needed to be fitted to the roof of a lorry cab. He rested a ladder against the side of the vehicle and then climbed up on to the cab roof. When he tried to climb down, the ladder slipped, and he fell 10ft to the ground. He suffered fractures to his hip and right elbow and was unable to return to work for four months owing to his injuries.

HSE inspector Shellie Bee told SHP that a safety audit a few months prior to the incident had identified that staff were using unsafe work-at-height methods. Workers were observed accessing lorry roofs by standing on a pallet that was placed on the raised forks of a lift truck. The worker would then lean forwards to install a wind deflector on the cab roof, while another worker stood on the vehicle’s roof to guide the deflector in to place.

The safety consultant who carried out the audit instructed the company to purchase a mobile gantry to access the top of vehicles. Inspector Bee revealed that although this equipment was purchased it was not being used by the company and the platform did not have edge protections around two sides.

The firm was issued with an Improvement Notice on 1 February 2010, which required it to create a safe system of work for fitting wind deflectors. Inspector Bee said: “JDS Trucks simply didn’t think about the risks the worker might face if he climbed on to the roof of the cab using a ladder, and put his life in danger as a result.

“He was off work for several months as a result of his injuries but could have suffered permanent injuries, or even been killed. Since the incident, the company has upgraded its gantry for safe working at height and implemented a safe system of work for fitting wind deflectors.

“Ladders do have a use in the workplace and, in some situations, are appropriate with the correct training and if they’re properly secured. In this case, the incident occurred as the ladder was not secured, no training had been given, and no safe system of work existed to complete the job safely.”€

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