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August 9, 2010

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Worker fell from platform with missing guardrail

A worker has been left disabled after falling from a mobile tower scaffold that had inadequate edge protection.

Barry Derbyshire, 61, was working as a machine operative at Klarius UK Ltd’s factory in Cheadle, Staffordshire when the incident took place on 18 August 2009. He was carrying out routine maintenance on a machine used make vehicle exhaust pipes.

In an effort to locate an oil leak on the machine, he climbed up a mobile tower scaffold, which lacked a guardrail on one side, as the company felt it would interfere with access to the machine. While Mr Derbyshire was inspecting the machine, he lost his balance and fell more than two metres to the ground. He sustained a fractured vertebra, and crushed another, leaving him immobilised for seven weeks. He has been left permanently disabled and has been unable to return to work.

Klarius UK appeared at Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates’ Court on 3 August and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £8000 and ordered to pay costs of £1892.

The court heard that the firm has no previous convictions and entered an early guilty plea. Following the incident the company carried out a more rigorous risk assessment, which led to it buy a scissor lift to replace the tower scaffold. It has also trained all machine operators in how to use the scissor lift.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Lynne Boulton said: “Mr Derbyshire did nothing wrong but, as a result of this fall, he’s been left with life-changing injuries. The company had a clear lack of appreciation of risk.

“If Klarius UK Ltd had used the right equipment and ensured there were guardrails on the scaffolding, it would never have happened.”

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