Worker’s death uncovers serious safety failures

Published:  19 February, 2015

An employer at a roofline products company in Deeside has been fined for providing a severely unsafe ladder to a worker, who later fell and died from his injuries.

Thomas Price employed Gethin Kirwan to carry out guttering work at a property in Llanrhos Road on 4 April 2013, when Mr Kirwan fell from the ladder and sustained a fatal head injury.

The Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation found that the ladder was in an extremely poor state, with bent rungs, one rung missing, and worn-through feet. Although HSE accepted the ladder was not responsible for Mr Kirwan’s fall, it did have a number of serious safety defects with the potential to cause serious incidents. Two other ladders provided for use on the job had similar critical defects.

At Wrexham Magistrates’ court yesterday (18 February), Thomas Price pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £4,000 in costs. The court also granted a Forfeiture & Destruction Order for the ladders.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Wilcox said: “Although Mr Kirwan’s death was not attributable to the ladder, it was in an appalling state and should never have been used.

“All work equipment must be maintained in a safe condition for use and checked regularly for any damage. For ladders, a quick and simple visual check should be done to look for any obvious defects.

“The most common and critical issues are worn or missing feet and damage to the rungs and stiles – which are very easy to spot.”

Image courtesy of zimmytws/Shutterstock

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