Health & Safety in the workplace

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A drinks manufacturing company was fined for safety failings after two workers suffered falls at two separate plants.

In the first incident, an employee fell nearly four metres from a portable ladder while maintaining equipment. He was found unconscious on the floor and taken to hospital with concussion, a dislocated finger and cut to his head. Following the accident, he experiences restricted movement in his hand but has since returned to work.

In the second incident, two months after the first, and at another plant owned by the drinks manufacturing company, a second employee also suffered a fall after maintaining equipment. He was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a bleed on the brain and a shattered bone in the left arm. As a result of the accident, his short term memory is impaired, but he has returned to full time employment.

During the subsequent court case, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the employer had failed to take sufficient steps to prevent the use of ladders in unsafe circumstances when maintaining equipment. The ladders provided were difficult to manoeuvre and often got stuck. HSE inspectors found that maintenance instructions were passed down from employee to employee during initial training. There was neither a risk assessment nor any written instructions for the clearing of equipment.

The drinks manufacturer was fined a total of £18,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Accidents in the workplace are avoidable and completely unnecessary. In this particular case, there could easily have been fatalities and the injured experienced were avoidable if proper protective measures were put in place by the company to protect its workers. This includes training on health and safety methods, as well as simulation of risk activities to ensure the measure have been learnt and workers are able to carry out their tasks responsibly.

Lee Churchill

If any of the issues raised in this article affect your business, please give us a call to discuss your options. We are happy to advise and find a solution that works for you and your business: 0800 912 7152

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