On the 2nd May 2019 Boston Magistrates Court sentenced a Lincolnshire construction company to pay a £30,000 fine and £4,814.04 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

An employee was constructing the roof of a new agricultural building when he stepped backwards onto the fragile roof of an adjacent building. He fell five meters onto the concrete floor and broke his back.

The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation found that the system of work in use to control the risks of working at height was ‘fundamentally unsuitable’, stating that edge protection or nets would have been more appropriate to the harnesses provided to the employees. Further, the use of the harnesses was not being enforced by the company.

Duties of Employers

The size of the fine received in this case shows the real impact that such failings can have on a company. It is therefore worth reminding ourselves that employers and those in control of working at height have a responsibility to ensure that work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. This includes selecting the right equipment.

The reality of these responsibilities is that work must be risk assessed and a safe method of work devised. Employees must then be provided with the necessary information, instruction and training on the system of work and any equipment to be used. But duties do not stop when work starts. Work must be supervised and proper working practices and use of equipment enforced.

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