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Saturday, 7 December

Lanes Fined £500,000 After Worker Injured In Fall

Ladder fall fine

Lanes Group PLC have been fined £500,000, with £9,896.19 costs, after pleading guilty to one offence under the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that Keith Light, now 54, suffered injuries including a broken collarbone, 11 broken ribs and a punctured lung after falling from a height of 14ft while cutting back vegetation at Brent Cross viaduct.

In a Victim Personal Statement provided to the court, Mr Light explained that following the accident on 2 November 2016 he spent 13 days in intensive care during which time he underwent two major operations and now has metal plates pinning his clavicle and ribs. He has been unable to return to his former occupation.

Lanes Group had won the contract to help with maintenance work, including vegetation removal, repairs and painting along the Northern Line in the North London boroughs of Barnet and Haringey and had started work at Brent Cross on 24 October 2016, with Mr Light working his first shift on 31 October.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) investigation found that Lanes’ site inspection had been inadequate and failed to realise that using ladders was inappropriate for the task and exposed workers to the risk of falling.

On the day of the fall, Mr Light arrived on site at 8:00am and was not given a safety briefing before starting work painting arches at a viaduct. Later in the day at a more inaccessible part of the site, Mr Light was instructed to climb a ladder and cut back some branches so that painting could continue.

The court heard that in order to reach the branches Mr Light had to twist to the left and reach across and as he did so he felt the ladder lurch and he fell to the ground.

ORR told the court that that the job was neither properly planned nor appropriately supervised and because Lanes had failed to properly assess the site, workers were unable to use equipment, such as a tower scaffold or mobile elevated work platform, which were specified in the work method statement.

Lanes’ Health and Safety Manager did not visit the site.

Ian Prosser, ORR Director of Safety and HM Chief Inspector of Railways, said: "Our thoughts remain with the victim who suffered such awful injuries. We welcome the sentence which clearly indicates the seriousness with which this offence is viewed and we expect Lanes and the rail industry as a whole to look very hard at their sites and make sure they are doing everything possible to ensure they are safe."

 

Ladder Association

In response to this prosecution, the Ladder Association – the not-for-profit authority dedicated to promoting the safe use of ladders and stepladders – is urging all ladder users and those responsible for managing the safe use of ladders, to put ladder training at the top of their height safety agenda.

Dennis Seaton, Chair of the Association’s Training Committee, said: “There are many situations where a ladder can be the right solution, but they shouldn’t automatically be your first choice. It’s one of the main reasons we launched our ‘Get a Grip’ on ladder safety campaign with the clear message ‘When it’s right to use a ladder, use the right ladder and get trained to use it safely'.

"We strongly believe training is an important contribution in keeping people safe when working at height and that training is about more than just using the ladder; it’s about helping people understand when it’s right to use a ladder, (and even more so in this case, when it’s not right to use a ladder), choosing the right ladder and then understanding the simple steps to use your ladder safely.”

www.ladderassociation.org.uk/get-a-grip

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

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