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Air Con worker fall leads to major fines

Two companies must each pay fines and costs totalling more than £23,000 after a worker suffered serious head injuries after falling when carrying out repairs on rooftop air conditioning units.

The Health and Safety Executive(HSE) says the case should act as a warning to employers to ensure they have safe systems in place for employees working at height

At the hearing at City of London Magistrates Court building services specialist Team Q Maintenance and brand consultant Schawk UK were each fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,098 for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The case was brought after Team Q Maintenance employee Kantilal Mistry, of Stanmore, fell approximately 2.2 metres while undertaking repairs at Schawk UK on July 15, 2005.

A HSE statement said: “There were no fixed means of access or edge protection to prevent falls. Mr Mistry borrowed a step ladder from Schawk UK to access the roof which was not suitable nor safe for the task.

“He suffered a serious head injury which has left him with ongoing health problems and unable to work.”

Following the prosecution HSE Inspector Chris Tilley said: “Both defendants were aware of the risks from working at height which had been clearly identified at least a month before the incident, but this information had not been supplied to Mr Mistry.

“No effort was made to ensure that Mr Mistry was supplied with safe access equipment or to prevent him from working. If this information had been acted upon Mr Mistry would not have been injured.

“Many incidents could be avoided if employers and contractors communicated effectively, identified safe ways of tackling a job, provided all necessary access equipment and contractors were properly supervised whilst on customers' sites.

“In this instance there were a number of options available to ensure that safe access could have been achieved which would have greatly reduced the risk. Precautions to prevent falls are often simple and there is free guidance readily available to help employers take the right action.'

Team Q Maintenance, of New River Trading Estate, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the act which states: 'It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all his employees'

Schawk UK, of Shepherdess Walk, Hackney, was found guilty of breachng Regulation 3(1)(a)(b) which states: 'Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of his employers to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking'

Team Q Maintenance declined to comment this week.

Website links:
HSE Shattered Lives campaign