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    £1.5m fine after electrician died following fall from height

    Published on March 30th, 2022 | by Sophie West

    A defuncted contractor has been fined £1.5m after an electrician fell 26 feet from a crane platform.

    On the 25th October 2016, electrician Keith Poppleton was contracted to repair wiring that had short circuited the lifting equipment on a 85 foot crane. Unfortunately, he fell 26 feet after a walkway gave way, and sustained fatal injuries as a result.

    So, what happened?

    The crane’s gantry was built almost 40 years ago in 1983 and was meant to be held in place by four clips that were secured with bolts, however, the Health and Safety Executives investigation found that just one clip had been on the panel when it gave way.

    The contractor, Cleveland Bridge, had no record of maintenance being carried out on the walkways and didn’t have a plan in place to ensure the panels were properly securely replaced after they were removed for other work.

    It wasn’t the first time Cleveland Bridge had been fined for a poor health and safety record. In 2003 they were fined £8,000 when a worker fell 1.5 metres from poorly guarded scaffolding.

    What are the company’s responsibilities?

    There are a number of regulations that apply to working at height. Many of these involve how an employer is responsible for their employee’s safety when working at height. Companies must:

    • Avoid setting jobs that involve working at a dangerous height when possible
    • Do what you can to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall
    • Use equipment which prevents falls (Harnesses, etc)

    Employers can’t control everything as there is a level of responsibility the employee / subcontractor has to take to ensure their own safety. That being said, a risk assessment prior to the work being carried out must take place as this will identify any risks involved and ways to overcome them or reduce the risk. This must be evaluated and recorded prior to any task taking place.

    Training and The Work at Height Regulations 2005

    Before any work is carried out the employer must make sure that the person has the correct training in place. The purpose of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 is to prevent death and injury caused by a fall from height. If you are an employer or control work at height the Regulations apply to you.

    Employers and those in control of any work at height activity must make sure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. This includes using the right type of equipment for working at height. Low-risk, relatively straightforward tasks will require less effort when it comes to planning. Employers and those in control must first assess the risks.

    Employees have general legal duties to take reasonable care of themselves and others who may be affected by their actions, and to co-operate with their employer to enable their health and safety duties and requirements to be complied with.

    Looking for more information?

    The HSE has information on the Working at Height Regulation which can be found on their website here. The information is only a guide and does not make you compliant within Working at Height. In order to be compliant with the law you will need a competent person who understands the Regulation and can carry out the risk assessments involved.

    A competent person can be someone who looks after health and safety for your company or a third part company, such as Agility Risk and Compliance, to act as your competent person. Give a member of the team a call on 01527 571 611 to discuss what you’re looking for and see how we can help.

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