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Chemical company fined after worker injured by fall

Date:
15 October 2013

A Dumfries company has been fined for safety failings after a 70 year-old worker fell more than four metres from a ladder at the firm’s animal-rendering plant in Motherwell.

Experienced pipe fitter Matthew Maxwell, had climbed to the top of a ladder to measure up a section of pipework which was to be replaced at the Omoa Works site of Dundas Chemical Company (Mosspark) Ltd, in Newarthill, but as he reached out to take the measurement, the ladder slipped.

Both he and the ladder slid down the wall until the top of the ladder hit a cable tray and bounced up into the air. Mr Maxwell was thrown off and hit the ground, striking his head as he fell.

He sustained bruising to his ribcage, a sprained thumb and a cut eye. Mr Maxwell was able to return to work after seven weeks.

Airdrie Sheriff Court was today (15 Oct0ber) told the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had investigated the incident, on 23 May 2012, and found the company, which processes animal by-products,  had failed to provide a safe system for working at height  with ladders.

The court heard Mr Maxwell, a part-time pipe fitter with Dundas since 2008, had attempted to measure some pipework he was due to replace at a later date. He was working alone and unsupervised.

HSE also found the company had failed to put processes in place to ensure that workers did not undertake activities that could put them at risk if working alone, and that no suitable training or supervision for working at height with ladders was in place.

In addition, there was no ladder register in place which would have allowed the company to monitor the condition of the ladders or maintain them in a safe condition.

Dundas Chemical Company (Mosspark) Limited, of Annan Road, Mosspark, Dumfries, was fined £8,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Eve Macready said:

“This was an entirely preventable incident and one which could have been even more serious. It was fortunate that Mr Maxwell’s fall was, in effect, broken when the ladder hit the cable tray.

“The risks of working at height are well known and are relatively simple to manage. By failing to have suitable risk assessment and safe working practices in place at the Omoa Works factory, Dundas Chemical Company (Mosspark) Limited put Mr Maxwell at unnecessary risk of injury.

“To compound the issue, by not having a procedure in place to properly assess and register the condition of its ladders, the company also failed to ensure that equipment was safe to use.”

For more information about the risks associated with working at height please visit the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. In Scotland the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has sole responsibility for the raising of criminal proceedings for breaches of health and safety legislation.
  3. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees”.
  4. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press

 

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