Eight-metre fall for trainee leads to heavy fine for company

by Redmans Solicitors on August 12, 2013

A Rickmansworth firm has been heavily fined and ordered to pay the costs of the prosecution after a trainee suffered serious injuries after an accident at work.

The accident happened on 3 December 2012 when the trainee was working with his employer, Nature’s Power Limited, fitting a flue liner down a chimney as part of an installation project. The trainee was up an access ladder attempting to install the flue liner when the ladder came away from the wall. He wasn’t able to right his position and fell three stories to the ground below, sustaining serious injuries. This included a fractured spine, a broken ankle and wrist and a fractured pelvis.

The Health and Safety Executive was subsequently notified and an investigation was started into the accident. The HSE investigation recommended that a prosecution be initiated into the company and the matter came before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court last week.

The Westminster Magistrates heard that the Health and Safety Executive investigation found that the access ladder was not long enough to a point where he could step on to the roof of the building, leading to the accident and his injuries. The company was criticized for not using a safe working procedure and for failing to take steps as were reasonably practicable to prevent the serious injuries to the trainee.

Nature’s Power Ltd, who pleaded guilty to breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 in absentia, was fined a total of £30,000 and ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs of £5,840.

The company’s criminal defence solicitors do not appear to have commented on the case either prior to or after the judgement and it is not currently known whether the injured trainee is going to claim personal injury against the business or has done so already.

Marc Hadrill, a personal injury solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented: “Employers have obligations regarding health and safety at work – generally, they have to simply take such steps as are reasonably practicable in the circumstances to ensure that the health, safety and/or welfare of workers and third parties isn’t endangered by the workplace. The Magistrates’ Court determined in this case that the employer failed to do this.”

HSE Inspector Keith Levart stated after the judgment: “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. It is only a matter of good fortune that these injuries were not fatal.”

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors and personal injury solicitors based in London

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