Working at height usually comes with risks and employers have a duty to take steps to protect their employees from falls from height. At minimum the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests that employers should take the following simple steps before working at height:
- Avoid work at height where it is reasonably practicable to do so;
- Minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, by using the right type of equipment where the risk cannot be eliminated.
Keeping this in mind, the court had to consider the following situation recently:
A self-employed worked, supervised by a contractor, was removing a roof when he fell over three metres onto concrete flooring. The worker suffered serious injuries as a result of the fall, including a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a partial collapsed lung, and a head injury.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that the work had not been appropriately supervised, planned or carried out over a period of more than six months. The Lundy Company Limited, one of the defendants, had failed to ensure that they had nominated a competent contractor to carry out the work. The work was carried out under the control of the contractor, Mr Ford, without any scaffolding or safety precautions to prevent injuries or falls from height.
The Lundy Company Limited pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and received a fine of £30,000 and they were ordered to pay costs of £4,800 to the Health and Safety Executive.
Mr Ford, the contractor who supervised the work, pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was sentenced to three months' imprisonment suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs of £2,500.
As always, if you have a legal query please get in touch with the FSB Legal Helpline on 0345 0727727 and we'll be happy to assist you.