Serious Safety Failings Uncovered Following Worker's Death

Worker Provided With Unsafe Ladder In Use At Time Of Fatal Fall


The owner of a roofline products company has been fined this week, following the death of a worker who was provided with an unsafe ladder.

Gethin Kirwan, 35, sustained a fatal head injury after falling from the ladder during the installation of guttering in the 2013 incident.

Thomas Price was prosecuted by the HSE at Wrexham Magistrates' court and pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. He was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay another £4,000 in costs.

The HSE investigation found that the ladder itself was not to blame for the fall, but had a number of serious safety defects that had the potential to cause other serious incidents.

The ladder, and two others provided by Mr Price, were found to have worn feet as well as bent and missing rungs. The obvious defects meant that the ladders should have been declared unfit for use after even a cursory inspection.

HSE Inspector Chris Wilcox, speaking after the hearing, said: "Although Mr Kirwan’s death was not attributable to the ladder it was in an appalling state and should never have been used.

"All work equipment must be maintained in a safe condition for use and checked regularly for any damage. For ladders, a quick and simple visual check should be done to look for any obvious defects."

Expert Opinion
Falls from height are one of the most common causes of workplace injury, but time and again we see cases in which employers fail to take steps to minimise the risks.

"It is vital that workers tasked with jobs at height are always given quality tools and equipment to ensure they can do their jobs effectively and safely, while employers also have a duty to ensure they are properly trained for the projects too.

"The issues with the ladder in this case should have been identified so that it was never brought into use, so it is vital that employers learn lessons so such issues do not arise again in the future."
Stephen Nye, Partner