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Tradesman breaks ankle in fall from height
Published:  08 January, 2014

The owners of a Holmfirth business park have been fined after a maintenance worker fractured his ankle in a fall from a ladder while removing several heat exchange units from a disused premises nearby.

The 68-year-old, who does not wish to be named, had been asked by Bridge Mills to carry out the work in a former machine shop in Huddersfield Road, Kirklees Magistrates’ Court heard on 7 January.

He was working from the ladder, being held by a cleaner, at various heights of around four and five metres when the ladder was knocked from the cleaner’s hands. He realised he was falling and jumped clear, rolling over to protect himself as best he could.

Several failings were found upon a Health & Safety Executive investigation, including that there was no clear responsibility for health and safety in the company; work at height was not planned or organised, so there was no safe system of work in place; the firm had not assessed the risks or provided the worker with work-at-height training; the correct equipment for the job had not been provided, and the ladder used was not tied at the top or effectively balanced.

Bridge Mills Ltd was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £1,355 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Health & Safety at Work Act.

HSE inspector Jackie Ferguson said: “The worker was fortunate not to have suffered a far more serious injury – it doesn’t take a fall from a great height to inflict a life-changing injury or even death. The fact that he saw the ladder slipping allowed him to mitigate the potential consequences.

“There were several safe methods open to Bridge Mills Ltd for the removal of the heat exchange units, including working from an integrated working platform. Instead, the health and safety of workers was treated in a vague and haphazard manner.