Company Prosecuted After Worker Fall Causes Paralysis

Glasgow-Based Firm Fined After Serious Accident Causes Life-Changing Injuries

12.06.2014

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted a company in Scotland over a series of safety failings that led to one of its staff becoming permanently wheelchair reliant.

Glasgow-based Inex Works was investigated by the HSE after Colin Shields, a 34-year-old from Cumbernauld, fell off a gritter lorry at a plant in Perthshire as he tried to help colleagues clear compacted grit salt from the back of the vehicle in December 2010.

The fall caused him to break several vertebrae in his back and as a result he has been left paralysed from the neck down and in need of daily care.

He had climbed the ladder at the back of the truck when his foot slipped and an HSE investigation found that the company had not established a safe method for carrying out work on the trucks.

Among the shortcomings was an absence of a working platform or any safety rails to prevent a fall, or a safety harness for workers climbing on the vehicle.

These failures by Inex Works to provide staff with safe methods of working at height led to the prosecution and the company pleaded guilty at Airdrie Sheriff Court to a breach of Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £13,500 as a result.

Commenting on the incident, HSE inspector Hazel Dobbs said: "Mr Shields could have easily been killed. As it is, he has been left with irreversible injuries and he and his family have obviously been devastated."

She added: "This incident could have easily been avoided as there were several other ways this work could have been carried out, such as using alternative means of access or use of a harness."

HSE guidance on working at height notes that falls from workplace vehicles are a common cause of injury.

Its safety recommendations include the three point hold rule, which states that people should be able to hold onto something as they maintain three points of contact at all times.