Ladder Fall Leaves Decorator With Severe Injuries

Roofer Fined £2,000 For Failing To Provide A Suitable Ladder


A Plymouth roofer has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000 after admitting to breaching Work at Height Regulations 2005.

David Faulkner failed to provide 58-year-old decorator Alan Beutner with a suitable platform to complete work on the outside of a house on Carlton Terrace in 2011.

Mr Beutner fell seven feet from an untied ladder to a concrete floor below.

Although he was initially discharged from hospital with five fractured ribs and surface fractures to his spinal vertebrae on the same day as the accident, he was readmitted the following day.

It emerged that the father of three had sustained severe internal injuries and he later died from medical complications, despite undergoing two emergency operations.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the ladder had not been properly tied off and eventually twisted free from the ironwork it was resting on.

The regulator also discovered the ladder was only designed to handle a maximum weight of 95kg. Mr Beutner himself weighed 110kg.

HSE representatives insisted this job should have been undertaken from a scaffold tower, or as a last resort, Mr Faulkner should have at least ensured the ladder was safely braced and fastened to the building.

Speaking after the hearing at Plymouth Magistrates' Court, HSE inspector Martin Lee said the risk of using ladders is well known and alternative equipment is not "prohibitively expensive".

"This incident shows how seemingly simple tasks using a ladder can quickly turn into a serious incident if basic safety measures are not followed," he commented.

"If ladders are used to carry out work at height, no matter how short the job, it's vital the task is carefully planned, the equipment chosen is suitably strong and can be secured and used safely."

Falls from height are still one of the leading causes of workplace injuries in the UK and the HSE is keen to raise awareness about safe equipment and working practices.

Expert Opinion
Working at height is fraught with risk and this is demonstrated by the fact that falls from height are an incredibly common cause of workplace injury. Despite this being common knowledge, we are still contacted by numerous workers who have been injured due to basic safety failings which could and should have been avoided.

"Employers need to wake up to the issue of providing the right equipment to workers, as well as offering the correct level of training and supervision to staff.

"Health and safety must always come first and we hope that lessons can be learned from cases like this which will ensure that similar incidents of this nature are avoided."
Stephen Nye, Partner