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Firm fined £25,000 after worker fell to death

RTAL Ltd of Purley, Surrey - which manufactures items such as handrails and security fencing - has been fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs after a man fell to his death because a protective guard rail had been removed.

Andrew Taylor, aged 29, died on 24 January 2003 when he fell eight metres from a platform whilst installing a kiln.

Managing director of the firm Terry Green was also handed a £2,500 fine and ordered to pay costs of £500, after charges were brought under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Health and Safety Executive Inspector Sandy Carmichael said: "This was a serious breach of obligation to both its own staff and visiting workers, indicative of failure by the company to appreciate the risks from such complex work. Andrew Taylor's tragic and wasteful death could and should have been avoided by straightforward safety precautions."

Council fined over cherry picker accident

East Riding Council is facing a bill of more than £10,000 after pleading guilty to failing to ensure the safety of an employee at work.

A cherry picker fell on a council worker, 51 year old Elena Tradewell, with the force of a 28-stone hammer because of serious errors in the council's health and safety procedure. The machine was being used by two untrained workers in Princess Mary Promenade on the South Foreshore on September 19, 2005.

The foreshore workers, who were not employed for maintenance work, had borrowed the lift from workers at the Spa, who were similarly underqualified, to help them take down banners. They could have been trained to use the machinery at a cost of £100 each.

The cherry picker glanced off Mrs Tradewell's head, shoulder and back before collapsing on her foot, smashing two metatarsal bones.

The engineer's report into the accident noted four factors which contributed to the lift falling - a light wind, a slight slope on the ground, a missing outrigger leg and, most importantly, its operator turned a screw to level the machine in the wrong direction.

Mr and Mrs Tradewell are continuing to seek compensation from the council.

Speaking in court on the behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, prosecutor Christopher Chambers said that although the injuries had been serious the consequences might have been much worse, with a risk of fatal injury. There had been a number of systemic errors by the Council.

Tom Spencer, mitigating for the council, said: "This council has been at the forefront of bringing workplace accidents down and that reputation has been badly damaged by what happened two years ago.

"The internal investigation was made very rapidly. Conclusions were drawn, lessons were learned and the systems changed very, very quickly. There was a great deal of anguish among very senior officers in the council"

Safety warning - fixed rail vertical fall arrest system

The HSE advises against using the HACA fixed rail vertical fall arrest system type 0529.7102 which has recently failed the BS test that represents the appropriate standard for this type of equipment. The device is typically used when climbing ladders or rungs attached to fixed structures.

Further information is in the HSE website,

Prison sentence expected for skylight manslaughter

A supervisor has been told that prison is inevitable when he appears for sentencing for manslaughter on 29 November.

Paul Alker, 34, died in June, after falling through a skylight at a Wrexham store. Steven Smith, 36, from Rhostyllen, near Wrexham, admitted manslaughter, intending to pervert the course of justice and health and safety breaches.

The charge stated that Smith failed to ensure Mr Alker had sufficient training, knowledge or experience to carry out work at dangerous heights, or to carry out roofing works. He also failed to ensure people working on the roof had safety harnesses.

Smith admitted a second charge of failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of Mr Alker and his colleague Aaron Pugh under the Health and Safety at Work Act. He also admitted a third charge of doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice - by installing safety harnesses after the accident and pretending they had been present.

HSE Advice - Working at Height and Fragile Roof Safety

Falls through fragile roofs and fragile rooflights are a major cause of death and injury at work.

A company director was recently sentenced to 16 months imprisonment for not acting to prevent a fatal fall through a fragile rooflight.

This link to a safety alert advises building companies on how to prevent injury and comply with legal requirements.

Follow this link for more on fragile roof safety..

HSE Advice - Working at Height on minor roof work/roof edges

This Advice helps you identify the risks involved with minor roof work choose the right access equipment to do the job and considers Working conditions, Height, Surface, Ground, Weather and the type of task you are undertaking.

Follow this link for minor roof work/roof edges.

Archived Entries

Please see the cdmUK News Archives for links to archived entries from cdmUK.