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Worker permanently paralysed after fall

3rd December 2019

A Northamptonshire painting and decorating employer has been sentenced after an employee sustained serious, life-changing injuries after falling from height.

On 7 August 2018, an employee was severely injured when he fell from height whilst installing a roof ladder on a pitched roof at a property in Northamptonshire. The fall resulted in the employee being permanently paralysed from the chest down.

The homeowners hired the company to paint the exterior windows and soffit boards of their property, including the painting of dormer windows within their roof.

The employee was in the process of setting up ladders to access the dormer windows when he fell from height.

Investigating, the HSE found that the incident could have been prevented if the work at height hierarchy had been followed in the planning process and if appropriate equipment had been provided to employees, such as fully compliant scaffolding.

The risk assessment should have identified that this work was not short duration and that the use of ladders was not appropriate.

The owner of the company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order, 160 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £2,124.28 with a surcharge of £85.

Speaking after the hearing, the HSE Inspector said: “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. In this instance, the painting of the soffits and windows was not short duration work and should have been done from appropriate work platforms. Ladders were not the appropriate equipment.”

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