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15th July 2011

Truck Company Failed to Implement Safety Consultants Recommendations

A Blackburn truck company failed to rectify unsafe work-at-height practices that were identified during an audit carried out by their safety consultancy.

The company, which sells and repairs heavy-goods vehicles, appeared at Accrington Magistrates’ Court following an incident at its garage, involving a 47-year-old mechanic. The employee was assessing whether a wind deflector needed to be fitted to the roof of a lorry cab. He rested a ladder against the side of the vehicle and then climbed up on to the cab roof. When he tried to climb down, the ladder slipped, and he fell 10ft to the ground. He suffered fractures to his hip and right elbow and was unable to return to work for four months owing to his injuries.

The HSE inspector involved in the case remarked that a safety audit a few months prior to the incident had identified that staff were using unsafe work-at-height methods. Workers were observed accessing lorry roofs by standing on a pallet that was placed on the raised forks of a lift truck. The worker would then lean forwards to install a wind deflector on the cab roof, while another worker stood on the vehicle’s roof to guide the deflector in to place.

The safety consultant who carried out the audit instructed the company to purchase a mobile gantry to access the top of vehicles. The HSE Inspector revealed that although this equipment was purchased it was not being used by the company and the platform did not have edge protections around two sides.

The company were appeared in court on 15 June 2011 and pleaded guilty to breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. It was fined £9900 in total and £4613 in costs.

In mitigation, the company said it had no previous convictions and in addition to upgrading the gantry it has provided training so staff are aware how to safely use ladders.

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