Victim falls nine metres afetr rope unravels suddenly…
A company based in Southmpton has appeared in court after an instructor of outdoor ativities suffered injuries that caused permanent disability after he used a faulty rope during an exercise aimed at demonstrating parachute landing techniques.
The 25-year-old accident victim fell around nine metres at the adventure centre where he was employed near Tonbridge in Kent on 25 August 2010. The rope he was using should have allowed him to descend gradually but instead it unravelled suddenly causing the victim to fall from the platform he had been standing on.
The instructor broke his back as a result of the fall and was left paralyzed from the waist down. He has since regained some use of his lower limbs after intensive physiotherapy. His ankle was also crushed in th fall and his right foot had to be amputated.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the accident revealed that the company that both manufactured and supplied the equipment used at the adventure centre, had used the wrong components for a particular batch of rope lifting equipment, causing the accident victim’s rope to slip from his harness. The court was also told that the company had failed to take the necessary quality control measures that might have idenitified the fault with the rope.
The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay an additional £6,348 in prosecution costs after admitting breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE Inspector Steve Simmons-Jacobs commented after the hearing had ended:
“This was an avoidable incident that has had a severe impact on a young life. It is only a matter of chance that this was not a fatality. As it is, the accident victim has suffered life-changing injuries and has now been fitted with a prosthetic foot.
“Rope and sling manufacturers have a duty to their customers and others to ensure that the product is suitable for the designed loads and that their quality control systems are robust and effective at all times. Companies must realise that their systems may be critical to the health and safety of the people who use their products.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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