British Telecom pleads guilty to working at height failures
Following two separate incidents that took place in 2010, British Telecom (BT) has been fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £60,000.
Six years ago, two engineers working for BT Open Reach had fallen from a ladder in separate incidents. The first engineer was on a ladder installing cable from the first floor to the main distribution frame, located on the ground floor. While working, he fell from the ladder, incurring injuries to his back and head.
A second engineer replaced the one who had fallen, again working from a ladder, but also fell, again incurring serious injuries to his back and head. Although the first engineer returned to work 12 months after the incident, he had lost his sense of taste and smell, and also required physiotherapy for several years. The second engineer also lost his sense of smell and taste, along with suffering memory problems and losing the sight in one eye.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that the area where the engineers had been working, exposed them both to live metal parts. The investigation concurred that it was most likely that both engineers had come into contact with the metal parts and had been shocked, throwing them to the floor.
Laura Lyons of HSE stated that it was necessary to plan and assess jobs that require working at height or in close proximity to electrical systems. As part of the risk assessment process, workers may need to use PPE or apply other procedures to ensure safety.