Michael Wilson proprietor of M Wilson Commercials has been fined £4,000 after one of his employees fell from a ladder and broke his back. The family-run firm has been trading for thirty years and carries out body repairs, building work and maintenance on commercial vehicles.
The court was told that the staff member broke vertebrae in his spine and almost a year after the accident is still unable to work.
The man, who does not want to be named, climbed up a ladder at the firm’s site at Leyland in Lancashire, to reach the release mechanism for a lorry cab.
South Ribble Magistrates’ Court in Leyland heard how the ladder that was not footed, suddenly slipped, sending the operator tumbling to the ground on March 3 last year.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decided to prosecute following the incident following an investigation that found the ladder had feet missing at both ends. The ladder was in a poor state of repair with a damaged bottom rung and it appeared to have been cut off at the top.
Mr Wilson admitted breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to make sure the ladder was well maintained. He was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £2,000.
Matt Lea, the investigating inspector at the HSE, said: “One of Mr Wilson’s employees was badly injured because he was given an unsafe ladder to use. It should have been checked in advance to make sure it was suitable. The employee had not received any training on working at height or with ladders, despite regularly needing to do it as part of his job. He therefore simply used the nearest available ladder.”
He added, “Sadly, this worker is just one of hundreds of people who are injured every year as a result of falling from ladders. Falling a short distance can still result in someone being seriously injured.”
On average, 12 people die every year after falling from ladders in British work places, and more than 1,200 suffer major injuries. Ladders remain a safe and quick method of access providing the equipment is suitably maintained, the job properly risk assessed and adequate training provided. These simple measures cannot only save employers thousands in compensation claims but save lives.