David Askew, 52, died after falling from a stepladder while working at the Canonbury Telephone Exchange, north London, in October 2006. The experienced engineer was standing on the top rung of a seven-foot ladder and was working alone at the time of his death, Southwark Crown Court, central London, heard. The accident resulted in BT being convicted of failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees at a trial in October this year.
Judge Deborah Taylor said the company had not provided appropriate ladders, leading Mr Askew to use a wooden ladder he found on the site. Staff working at heights had also been given “erroneous advice” in BT’s manuals, which did not consider the most up-to-date legislation, she continued. She said: “This was a significant failing by BT, whose employees regularly work at height”. “In my judgment these failures by BT contributed to Mr Askew’s fall,” she concluded.
Judge Taylor noted that Mr Askew’s widow, Denise, was in court for the sentencing and said: “I take into account the great personal loss to her and rest of the family. He clearly was an exceptional man.”She said the value of the fine “does not attempt to value the life of Mr Askew that was so tragically lost.”
As well as the fine BT was also ordered to pay £196,000 costs. Ronald Thwaites QC, mitigating, said that the odds of being killed by lighting were 10 million to one, while BT employees carried out nine million climbing jobs a year. He said: “If, on a statistical basis, deaths from falls were only as likely as death by lightning bolt strikes, most people would recognise that is a fairly remarkable record.”
In a statement, BT said it planned to appeal against the conviction.
The UK Health & Safety Executive’s – HSE Ladder Exchange programme, under which ladder owners can get their ladders checked and if necessary replaced at heavily discounted prices, came to a close on the 31st December.
The HSE said that ladders with missing rungs and bent sides are among those that have been surrendered during the programme. Peter Brown, HSE, said; “We’ve had more than 900 ladders exchanged.” He added, “Every month more than 100 people fall off a ladder at work and suffer serious injuries. So many of these accidents are avoidable and having safe equipment makes a huge difference.”
The high profile launch last month by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is concerned that some contractors are still putting themselves at risk by using out of date and shoddy old equipment. It has teamed up with TB Davies to raise awareness about the dangers and urge its customers to ensure their ladders are safe to use.
Health and safety inspectors will be carrying out spot-checks to make sure that work is done safely and the correct equipment is being used.
Ladder manufacturer and distributor TB Davies is working closely with the HSE as a primary partner to take thousands of dodgy ladders out of the market place in a new Ladder Exchange campaign. Running through its national network of resale partners the company is offering to take old or damaged ladders in part exchange for complaint and safe new access equipment.
Ladder and access products are a critical part of many contractors and businesses tool kit, which is why the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been working with local authorities and partner businesses to remove 5,500 dodgy ladders from the workplace over the last two years. The deal is part of a joint campaign co-ordinated by the HSE to reduce the number of work place injuries and deaths associated with using inappropriate or damaged ladders.
Big Brother star and successful property developer Craig Phillips was on hand to lend his support to the project at this week’s press launch in Liverpool. Peter Brown, the HSE’s head of work environment, radiation and gas division, said, “In 2007/08, 58 workers died and over 3600 were seriously injured as a result of a fall from height in the workplace. Over a quarter of these incidents involved ladders. We want anyone working at height to use the right ladder for the job and to use it safely.”
TB Davies ready to roll out HSE Ladder Exchange scheme
TB Davies has a national network of resellers that operate on an independent and group basis. These outlets have agreed to promote and participate in the scheme adding hundreds of additional access points at which ladder users can trade in their old equipment. Sales Manager Francis Camilleri said, “With the economy straining most companies budgets this scheme provides an excellent opportunity for those who instead of holding on to something they know is unsuitable or unsafe, be able to upgrade it at a fraction of the normal price.”
The company has a wide portfolio of ladder and access products made under their Horizon, Summit and Pinnacle banners available from stockists or direct to site the next day. Director David Gray explained, “With the broad range of site safe product such as podiums, glass fibre ladders and towers we supply on a next day service there is no excuse for contractors using potentially life threatening equipment.”
This year the Ladder Exchange Initiative will run from 1 September until 31 December 2009. If you have a ladder, which is bent, broken or battered you, can part exchange it for a new one at any one of our partner outlets who are offering discounts on the sales of all ladders at very competitive rates. It also provides duty holders with an opportunity to review pre-use checks, training, supervision and other arrangements for ladder work.
Over the last two years, HSE has worked collaboratively with Local Authorities, and several partner outlets, to remove over 5,500 ‘dodgy’ ladders from the workplace. Because of these successes, Ladder Exchange will now be an annual initiative.
During 2007/8 58 workers died and 3623 suffered a serious injury as a result of a fall from height. Ladders remain the most common agent involved accounting for approximately a third of all reported falls from height incidents. This is often because the ladder specified is inadequate for the job or the investigation identifies it has not been correctly maintained. It also the case that in many instances the operative is insufficiently trained to select or use the access product they are using.
These issues can be rectified with some straightforward training and a better understanding of the working at height regulations. Our website provides a number of documents to assist you in selecting and assessing your ladder and access stock. You are also able to find details of your nearest participating Ladder Exchange outlet who will give you a discount for ladders that you determine are not up to the standards required.
The ladder and access industry leader, TB Davies has launched their latest catalogue that now includes over a dozen new products across its twelve separate categories following a long customer consultation process.
General Manager Bob Baldock said, “As the wider industry continues to stagnate in its product development because of the weakening economic climate, we felt that with the oncoming HSE Ladder Exchange program it was an excellent time to release the expanded range.” Some of the very best ideas have been exclusively developed and include Conveyor Steps, SafeStance Ladders and the fully complaint but economically priced Midi Work Platform. Timber Ladders and Loft Ladders have also made it into the brochure for the first time.
“Over the last year demand for economically priced but fully complaint access product has continued to rise and now accounts for more of our turnover than ever before. With this in mind, we’ve put a lot of work into updating our brochure and we now offer ladder and access specifiers some of the best quality and innovative products on the market, combining great value with improved efficiency for small traders and heavy industry alike,” said Chris Chivell, Key Accounts Manager at TB Davies.
The new brochure has also been redesigned to make it easier for customers to locate the most suitable product for the task. It is now split into twelve separate categories that include Multi Purpose Ladders and Warehousing & Library to Glass Fibre, Towers and Podium Work Platforms.
The new products will be available from September with the catalogue clearly indicating the delivery times available that in most cases is next working day direct to site.
As well, as own brand products from the Horizon, Summit and Pinnacle ranges, the brochure also covers products from the companies TB Davies represents in the UK and Ireland. These include many global brand leaders such as Little Giant and Xtend & Climb with articulated and telescopic ladder products that are gaining worldwide recognition.
As TB Davies continues to develop its product portfolio across the group, Baldock said, “This expanded brochure will act as a platform to demonstrate to the market the full spectrum of our capabilities as we enter the important autumn and winter period.”
Falls from height continue to be the main cause of workplace fatality and one of the main causes of major injury. A fall from a ladder can have dire consequences not just for the worker concerned, but for their employer and their family. Of the 3,409 serious injuries from falls from height in 2006/07, around a third resulted from a fall from a ladder.
The HSE are determined to improve the safety of those working from ladders and from June 2007 have been doing a lot of work with their partners in local authorities and with hirers and ladder retailers to get ‘dodgy’ ladders out of the workplace. By the end of last year 4,194 dodgy ladders had been taken out of Britain’s workplaces.
The HSE have a simple message to ladder users. If it is right to use a ladder, use the right ladder, use it safely. If it’s not the right ladder, exchange it.
A new Ladder Exchange initiative will be running from Autumn
For more information on ladder safty or Ladder Training contact TB Davies directly
on tel:029 2071 3000
or via firstname.lastname@example.org