Man Left In Wheelchair After Fall From Ladder

Fall From A Ladder In Birmingham Left Man with Serious Injuries To Both Feet


A scaffolding firm has been prosecuted after a fall from a ladder left one of its staff with life-changing injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) began an investigation into Solihull-based Swan Scaffolding Contractors after a 49-year-old employee fell two metres from the ladder while assembling a scaffold for a children's TV programme at The Bond in Fazeley Street, Birmingham.

His plunge led to serious foot injuries that have left the worker in a wheelchair and unable to work since the incident, which occurred in March last year. He had been trying to fix the scaffold to the back of a working set when it gave way and he lost his balance. As the ladder gave way he jumped, with the distance of the fall causing fractures to the heels of both his feet.

The HSE investigation found the ladder to be an unsafe means of reaching the back of the stage, with readily-available guidance stating that a tower scaffold or elevated work platform should be used in such instances.

Swan Scaffolding accepted this finding and pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court to a breach of regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was sentenced to pay a fine of £5,000 with costs of £535 and a £500 victim surcharge.

Speaking about the case, HSE inspector Edward Fryer said: “A tower scaffold was available and should have been used. As a scaffolding company, Swan Scaffolding should be experts in access and working at height. They know it is a high-risk activity and they should know what measures to put in place to keep workers safe.”

In March, a Derbyshire firm was fined over a case of a site where two workers using ladders to climb to a height of seven metres tried to rely on lanyards and harnesses to prevent a fall. One of them suffered life-changing injuries when he tried to dismantle steel apparatus supporting a heavy aggregate mixer and it fell on him, as the ladder afforded no means of dodging the falling objects.

Expert Opinion
Falls from height are among the most common causes of workplace accidents and can have significant consequences for victims. We have seen cases when workers have suffered serious long-term injuries for which they require specialist support for their rehabilitation, as well as tragic instances when families have lost loved ones due to such problems.

"Employers need to recognise the importance of taking every possible step to protect workers from harm and this must involve the provision of necessary safety equipment, training and supervision where necessary.

"Health and safety should always come first and lessons should be learned from cases like this in order to ensure that the same problems are never seen again."
Stephen Nye, Partner