Hertfordshire firm in court over worker's fall

Hertfordshire firm in court over worker's fall 25555

A Hertfordshire company has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a worker fell eight metres from the roof of an industrial site.

An unnamed 22-year-old from High Wycombe, suffered a spinal injury braking two vertebrae in his spine, as well as his left ankle and wrist. 

The man also fractured his pelvis and tore a number of ligaments in the accident that took place on Poets Road, Highbury, North London on December 3rd 2012.

After hearing about the incident the man's employer, Nature's Power, was prosecuted by the HSE because of a number of safety breaches found by inspectors at the site.

Westminster Magistrates' Court was told the firm had been installing a new flue liner into a chimney as part of a new installation for a wood burning stove.

The 22-year-old, who was a trainee at the time, was attempting to slide together an extendable roof ladder while balancing at the top of an access ladder.

However, HSE investigators found that the ladder was not long enough to properly clear guttering around the facility and it fell over as he attempted to regain his balance following a brief lapse of concentration.

Nature's Power was fined a total of £30,000 and told to pay £5,840 in prosecution costs. Despite not turning up to court, the firm was found guilty in absentia of separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Keith Levart said: "It was clear the access ladder had been used unsafely and that Nature’s Power had failed to plan the work properly, taking into account the specific issues that arose from using that site.

"If used correctly, access and roof ladders can provide safe access to chimneys. However, this one could not clear the guttering, which led to this entirely preventable incident and a trainee worker suffering serious injuries."

Recent statistics published by the HSE show that 40 workers were killed and 3,400 seriously harmed in falls from height at work in 2011 and 2012.

By Chris Stevenson