A Council in the north of England has been fined and ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs after a worker nearly died in a fall last year.
Bradford Council appeared in front of the Bradford Magistrates’ Court last month after a worker was extremely seriously injured in a fall from a cherry picker because of the Council’s failure to adhere to health and safety laws.
The 23-year-old worker – who remains anonymous for personal reasons – was working in Brierly Hall Woods last year when the accident happened. The worker had been instructed to prune the branches of trees in the woods and he was using a cherry picker for this purpose. He was working at a height of about 35 feet when the cherry picker overturned, sending the worker plummeting to the ground. He sustained serious injuries as a result, including a fractured spine, fractured collar-bone, and fractures to his pelvis and right leg. He also sustained serious internal injuries that required surgery.
It is not currently known whether the man has claimed or will claim personal injury against Bradford Council. He was unable to work for five months as a result of the accident and although he has returned to work he can no longer carry out working on trees at height.
The accident was reported to the Health and Safety Executive and they investigated the matter. The HSE investigation found that Bradford Council had failed to properly follow health and safety procedures and that this could have caused the accident. The investigation therefore recommended that a prosecution be initiated against Bradford Council.
The matter came before the Bradford Magistrates’ Court on 25 June 2013. The court heard evidence that the Council had failed to properly plan and organise the work, resulting in the work being done in dangerous conditions.
Bradford Council admitted to breaching s.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £12,000, as well as ordered to pay £9,623 in costs for the prosecution.
Chris Hadrill, an employment law solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case that: “Potentially dangerous work needs to be properly assessed and monitored to ensure that injury doesn’t come to employees. Bradford Council failed to adhere to proper procedure relating to health and safety regulations and were therefore found by the Magistrates Court to have committed a criminal offence.”
A Health and Safety Executive inspector, Mr David Welsh, also commented that: “The use of a vehicle-mounted cherry picker for work at height needs to be properly planned and organised. The Council failed to assess the risks of the tree pruning work and provided unsuitable mats for the stabiliser feet, which led to an unsafe system of work being in operation.”
Bradford Council apparently did not comment after the ruling.
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