Heating, Ventilating & Plumbing
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Worker suffers serious injuries in fall from height
Published:  23 October, 2013

A heating, ventilation and air conditioning company has been fined for safety failings after an employee suffered serious injuries in a fall while repairing an extraction unit in Newcastle.

Neil Pearson, 27, from Teesside, suffered fractures to his left hand and wrist, and strained his right arm after falling nearly three metres at a premises on the Newburn Industrial Estate on 1 November 2012.

Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard on 22 October that a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Boldon-based HLA Services had not provided workers with the correct equipment for work at height.

Pearson fell after climbing a ladder to unfasten clips that attached a rain cover to the top of the extraction unit. He stepped off the ladder and stood on the small lip at the front of the unit to reach the back clips, while a colleague moved the ladder to the other side of the unit, but fell when the rain cover became unstable.

After undergoing two operations, Pearson still struggles with movement and grip in his wrist and hand. He can no longer work as a servicing engineer and has had to retrain in a new occupation.

The HSE investigation also found the workers had not been provided with a risk assessment or method statement for the work, and that the company failed to ensure the work at height was properly planned.

HLA Services Ltd, of Burford Way, Boldon, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £710.50 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE inspector Sal Brecken, said: “This was a wholly avoidable incident resulting in serious injury. Work at height is inherently fraught with risk. It is therefore essential that it is properly planned, managed and monitored to ensure it is carried out safely, and that all necessary precautions are taken to prevent falls and protect workers.

“If the company had properly planned the work activity and provided suitable equipment, such as a tower scaffold, then it could have been carried out safely. Instead Mr Pearson suffered painful injuries which have had a massive impact on both his work and personal life.”