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Worker killed by fall from ladder during boiler inspection
Published:  08 December, 2015

A sub-contractor was fined after a worker was killed when he fell from a ladder during an inspection of a boiler.

Third party contractor David Wood, of Hampshire, was inspecting a boiler in the loft space of a private residence on 19 March 2013, Winchester Magistrates’ Court heard.

The ladder had been incorrectly fitted, which resulted in Mr Woods falling and suffering fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the sub-contractor who had fitted the ladder, Poitr Kowalczyk, could not speak or read English and was not conversant with current British health and safety standards.

He was tasked with carrying out refurbishment and improvement works at the residence, including fitting of a propriety loft ladder, and chose to fit a three-section extendable ladder despite the fact that the ceiling was not of a standard height and was not compatible with his selection.

Due to the restricted loft space, it was not possible to fit the retaining bar on the ladder. The retaining bar is a safety device that locks the ladder at a safe angle.

When Mr Wood was on the ladder, the omission of the retaining bar allowed the ladder to slide forward causing Mr Wood to fall backward to the floor below. This resulted in fatal head injuries

Piotr Kowalczyk, of Southampton, was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years and ordered to pay costs of £12,404 after pleading guilty to offences under Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE inspector Frank Flannery said: “Falls from height are a major cause of fatalities and life-changing injuries and duty holders must take steps to prevent falls wherever possible.

“This accident was wholly preventable had the task been suitable thought through and the work carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

“I believe the sentence passed today indicates how serious the court has considered the offence, and this should send a message to all involved in this type of work, which includes property owners, letting agents and maintenance contractors that it is essential to use tradesmen competent in all tasks asked of them. Failure to do so could result in them being guilty of an offence themselves”.

For more information about ladder safety visit:http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg455.pdf.