A recent prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) serves as a warning to company directors and business owners of the importance of implementing comprehensive, safe systems for working at height.
David Boulton worked for a company based in Stockton-on-Tees, Mobile Mini UK Ltd. He was unloading a temporary accommodation unit from a lorry and was standing on top of the unit, in order to attach a sling from a crane, when he fell and suffered fatal head injuries.
Mobile Mini UK Ltd. pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,000.
The HSE inspector found that the company’s health and safety systems were fundamentally flawed. Systems that were in place were so cumbersome that employees found them difficult to follow and other procedures necessary for safe working at height were not followed. No checks were made to ensure that workers adhered to the systems that were in place and some of the equipment used was sub-standard.
Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of death in the workplace. When undertaking work of this nature it is vital to have in place safety procedures that are easy to understand and cover all associated risks. These should be monitored regularly and staff training kept up to date. For information on safe working at height, see hse.gov.uk/falls/index.htm.