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Firm must pay £10,000 after worker's ladder fall

A firm was told to pay £10,000 in fines and costs after one of its workers fell from a step ladder while working on a new extraction system.

Air Plant Dust Extraction, based in Leicester, was fined £5,000 and told to pay £5,147 costs, at Norwich Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to a breach of section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The court was told Mark Lowen, from Leicester, was fitting a new extraction system at a joinery company in Attlebridge, Norfolk, in October 2006 when he fell from the stepladder and landed on the ground.

He suffered severe damage to his back causing him to be off work for around four months and when he returned to work he was forced to switch to a lower paid role.

A Health and Safety Executiveinvestigation discovered the stepladder was standing on an uneven surface at the time of the incident and Mark was handling a long length of ducting, which may have affected his balance.

HSE investigators said that a proper risk assessment was not carried out for the work and Mark had not been trained in working at height safely.

HSE Inspector, Joanne Williams said: 'These types of incident happen more often than people imagine. Every week, one person in the UK dies due to a slip, trip or fall in the workplace and in the East last year they accounted for nearly a third of all accidents.

'But what these figures don't reflect is the extent to which a slip, trip or fall can affect individual workers and their families. It can lead to major injuries, and a lifetime of disability or time off work. The fall that Mark suffered has left him with lasting back problems and affected his earning capability at work.

'I hope this prosecution makes it clear to employers that they need to properly manage the risks of working at height and that HSE will not hesitate to take action against those who fall short of the law in such a way.'

The HSE launched the 'Shattered Lives' campaign (poster featured above) earlier this year to highlight the devastating consequences that slips, trips and falls can cause. For more information go to click here.