Plumber hospitalised after fall from height

Published:  25 March, 2013

A Coventry housing association has been fined for safety failings after an employee fell almost four metres from his ladder while inspecting a gutter.

The 52-year-old plumber from Solihull, who does not wish to be named, was inspecting a gutter for Whitefriars Housing Group at one of the company's houses in Coventry, in June 2011 when he fell.

He broke his pelvis and was in hospital for four months. He has since returned to work following several months off to recover from his injury.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Whitefriars Housing Group at Coventry Magistrates' Court after an investigation found that the base of the ladder hadn't been properly secured.

The court heard on 22 March that employees had not been given any instruction or equipment to enable them to secure their ladders effectively. Specifically, the company had failed to provide standoff devices to allow employees to work around guttering without resting the ladder against the guttering, which is inherently unstable.

In addition the company had not undertaken suitable routine monitoring to check if their employees were working safely.

The court was told that Whitefriars Housing Group undertakes a large amount of work at height, and that the company's management of this was well below the expected standard.

Whitefriars Housing Group Ltd was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £5,980 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE inspector Ed Fryer said: "A housing group doing such regular work at height should have known better, but as it was the work was not properly planned, organised or carried out in a safe manner, which resulted in this entirely preventable incident and a serious injury for the worker.

"Falls from height are the biggest cause of death and injury in the workplace and it is vital to plan effectively. As this incident shows, you cannot leave it to chance when the consequences are so severe."