A farm company was sentenced today after admitting safety failures relating to a worker falling five and a half meters through an abattoir skylight.
In June 2014, Mr Attila Bus was asked by his supervisor to clean the gutter on the abattoir owned by Tottingworth Farms Ltd.
Eastbourne magistrates heard Mr Bus was given a ladder that proved too short for the task so he went around to the other side of the building where a set of stairs gave him access to the roof of the abattoir. His supervisor had left for the day.
During the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution the court heard Mr Bus climbed onto the fragile roof and while walking over it fell through an unseen plastic skylight. He fell five and a half meters onto a pile of animal skins that he had coincidentally piled up in the area earlier.
The married father of two broke his wrist in the fall and has since had four operations on his wrist which he still cannot use it for more than a few hours due to the pain. He has not been able to return to work with the company as he cannot do the lifting required.
HSE told the court the company failed to organise, plan and supervise the cleaning of the gutter and that the incident was entirely preventable.
After the case, HSE inspector Graham Goodenough said: “Mr Bus was not given equipment suitable for the task and in trying to be a good employee he undertook a course of action that put him in danger. This incident was entirely preventable had the company recognised and followed the guidance available for work at height.
“Companies should be aware that even though their main business may not involve work at height, maintenance such as cleaning out a gutter may mean employees do this work occasionally. The unfamiliarity with this kind of work can mean the risk is even greater. Recognising this and following the guidance will ensure that companies take the steps required to prevent falls from height.”
Tottingworth Farms Limited of Little Tottingworth Farm,Broad Oak, East Sussex pleaded guilty to three breaches of Regulation 4(1) of Work at Height regulations 2005.
It was fined £500 for each offence and ordered to pay costs of £1690 at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court today (19 June).
Notes to editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive 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. hse.gov.uk
- Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 – Every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned; appropriately supervised; and 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.
- HSE press releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk/