Man confined to crutches after falling from storage tank…
The owner of a company in Hull has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an employee suffered such severe injuries in a fall that he will never be able to return to work.
The 58 year-old accident victim who worked as a decorator fell almost four metres while he was in the process of painting the top part of a water storage tank on 29 November 2011. He will not be able to return to employment in the construction industry as a result of the multiple fractures he sustained in his left leg in the fall.
The man was working with a colleague at a nursery in Easy Yorkshire when the accident occurred. He had been employed by the business owner to paint a number of storage tanks but lost his balance while walking on the curved surface of one of the tanks, falling to the concrete floor below.
After the fall, the man was immediately transported to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with multiple fractures of his left leg as well as a broken right heel. Despite having had two operations to insert pins in his left leg in an effort to improve his mobility, he still has to rely on crutches to this day and continues to receive physiotherapy to treat his injuries.
The subsequent HSE investigation into the accident discovered that the employer of the decorator had failed to adequately protect the safety of his employees as there were no guards or rails in place along the top of the storage tanks that might have prevented a fall.
Beverley Magistrates’ Court was told that the employer had also failed in his duty to protect his employees even though he had witnessed them working in an unsafe manner – indeed the employer had even provided the two men with faulty access equipment which further increased the risks associated with working at heights.
The business owner pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay £1,800 in costs.
HSE Inspector David Bradley spoke after the hearing:
“This was a serious incident in which a worker sustained life-changing injuries. However the height from which this worker fell had the very real potential to cause fatal injuries.
“The controls needed to avert this incident were simple to achieve, and the risks to people walking along the top of a curved tank should have been evident to anyone controlling the work. It is therefore disappointing that the employer saw people working in this manner yet failed to introduce simple controls to eliminate these risks.
“Falling from height remains the biggest cause of fatal and major injuries in the construction industry. This incident amply demonstrates the importance of planning properly and ensuring the right controls and precautions are in place for the duration of the work.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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