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Scaffolding firm fined after worker fell from ladder

Date:
8 May 2014

A Birmingham firm has been fined after a worker suffered life-changing injuries in a two-metre fall from a ladder while constructing scaffolding for the set of a television programme.

Craig Shakespeare, 49, of Birmingham, sustained serious foot injuries in the incident at The Bond on Fazeley Street, Birmingham, on 25 March 2013. He is now reliant on a wheelchair and has been unable to work since.

Mr Shakespeare was working for Solihull-based Swan Scaffolding Contractors Limited, which was today (8 May) prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to ensure sufficient measures were in place to prevent or mitigate the fall.

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard the company was building the supporting scaffold to hold a theatrical set in place.

Mr Shakespeare was working from a ladder to attach supporting scaffold to the back of the wooden set. As he pulled a fixture on the set towards the scaffold the fixture came away and he lost his balance.

He realised he was about to fall and jumped from the ladder, but landed heavily on his feet, badly breaking both heels.

HSE established a tower scaffold or elevated work platform should have been used instead of a ladder, as readily-available guidance clearly states. The court was told that had more suitable access equipment been used, the incident could have been avoided.

Swan Scaffolding Contractors Limited, of Knowle, Solihull, pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £535 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Edward Fryer said:

“The danger of using ladders should not be underestimated. This is another example of serious injuries being sustained where other access equipment could have been used instead.

“A tower scaffold was available and should have been used. As a scaffolding company, Swan Scaffolding should be experts in access and working at height. They know it is a high-risk activity, and they should know what measures to put in place to keep workers safe.”

Last year more than 6,300 employees suffered major injuries after falling from height at work. Information on preventing falls is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls

Notes to Editors

  1. Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Every employer shall ensure that work at height is (a) properly planned (b) appropriately supervised; and (c) carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe, and that its planning includes the selection of work equipment in accordance with regulation 7.”

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