Firm Fined After Man Dies In Ladder Fall

HSE Investigation Results In £11,672 Fine For Milton Keynes Company

22.11.2013

A roofing company has been fined £11,672 after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Milton Keynes Roofing was punished for an incident that occurred in January 2012, which resulted in the death of a self-employed worker.

Thomas Rowe of Crownhill had been using an unsafe ladder to carry out roof repairs on a two-storey building when he suddenly fell five metres to the ground. The 56-year-old suffered a fatal head injury.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the man had been using a two-part extension ladder that was footed by the company director, who was also a close friend of Mr Rowe.

It is unclear exactly how the fall happened, but the HSE discovered that the ladder - which had damaged rungs - was not suitable for this kind of work.

Inspectors said the man should have used a tower scaffold instead.

The judge confirmed the relatively low fine issued to the Milton Keynes-based firm was indicative of the company's limited means to pay and was not a reflection on the seriousness of the offence.

HSE inspector John Berezansky conceded that the regulator could not establish a definitive link between the state of the ladder and the fall, but he hopes this accident will encourage other businesses to check their equipment is fit for purpose.

"All work at height has to be properly planned and managed, and there were clear failings with the equipment used by Milton Keynes Roofing," he commented.

"Even short duration tasks need planning and foresight, and it is evident that had more appropriate equipment been provided then Mr Rowe's tragic death could have been avoided."

Falls from height are still the most common cause of workplace fatalities in the UK and the HSE continues to raise awareness about safe working practices.

Statistics published by the regulator earlier this year showed accidents involving falls, contact with machinery and transport together accounted for more than half of the fatal occupational incidents recorded in 2012-13.