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Worker’s death uncovers serious safety failures

Date:
18 February 2015

An investigation into the death of a worker installing guttering at a home in Llandudno found he was using an unsafe ladder, a court heard today.

Gethin Kirwan, 35, who lived in Hoole, Chester, was working at a property in Llanrhos Road on 4 April 2013 when he fell from the ladder, sustaining a fatal head injury.

Thomas Price, who runs a roofline products’ business, employed Mr Kirwan to carry out the work and was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Wrexham Magistrates’ court today (18 February, 2015).

HSE’s investigation found that the ladder provided by Mr Price was in an extremely poor state. Although HSE accepted the ladder was not responsible for Mr Kirwan’s fall, it did have a number of serious safety defects which had the potential to cause serious incidents. Two other ladders provided for use on the job had similar critical defects.

HSE found the feet of the ladder were worn through, rungs were bent and one was missing. The defects were obvious through even a cursory inspection and made the ladder unfit for use.

Thomas Price, of Marnel Drive, Pentre, Deeside pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and was fined £4000 and ordered to pay £4000 in costs.

The court also granted a Forfeiture & Destruction Order for the ladders.

HSE Inspector Chris Wilcox, speaking after the hearing, said:

“Although Mr Kirwan’s death was not attributable to the ladder it was in an appalling state and should never have been used.

“All work equipment must be maintained in a safe condition for use and checked regularly for any damage. For ladders, a quick and simple visual check should be done to look for any obvious defects.

“The most common and critical issues are worn or missing feet and damage to the rungs and stiles which are very easy to spot.”

Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/falls

 Notes to Editors

1.         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. www.hse.gov.uk

2.        Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations states: “Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.”

3.        HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk/release-type/press

 

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