Scaffolding firm fined after worker breaks heels in fall from height

Published:  09 May, 2014

Swan Scaffolding Contractors was fined yesterday following an incident in which a worker fell two metres from a ladder, sustaining serious foot injuries.

Craig Shakespeare, 49, was working from height to attach supporting scaffold to the back of a wooden television set on 25 March 2013. As he pulled a fixture on the set towards the scaffold, the fixture came away and he lost his balance. Realising he was about to fall, Mr Shakespeare jumped from the ladder, but landed heavily on his feet and badly broke both of his heels. He is now reliant on a wheelchair and has been unable to work since.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) established that a tower scaffold or elevated work platform should have been used instead of a ladder, as readily available guidance clearly states. Birmingham Magistrates’ Court was told that, had more suitable access equipment been used, the incident could have been avoided.

Solihull-based Swan Scaffolding Contractors was yesterday (8 May) prosecuted by the HSE for failing to ensure that sufficient measures were in place to prevent or mitigate the fall. The firm pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £535 in costs and a £500 victim surcharge.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Edward Fryer said: “The danger of using ladders should not be underestimated. This is another example of serious injuries being sustained where other access equipment could have been used instead.

“A tower scaffold was available and should have been used. As a scaffolding company, Swan Scaffolding should be an expert in access and working at height. They know it is a high-risk activity, and they should know what measures to put in place to keep workers safe.”

Information on preventing falls is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls