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  3. Scottish council handed five-figure fine following ladder fall

West Lothian Council has been handed a £10,000 fine after health and safety omissions that resulted in an employee undergoing distress and serious injuries in the workplace.

Joseph Poterala was painting when he fell from a ladder in July of 2013. He fell over four meters before sustaining numerous knee fractures and a serious hip injury.

The Crown Office's Laura Buchan said:

“Falls from height are one of the greatest single causes of death and serious injury to workers within the construction industry.

“Hopefully this prosecution and the sentence will remind other employers that failure to fulfil their obligations can have tragic consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.”

The council has had little choice but to overhaul its procedures for working at heights, including a modified template for risk assessment.

West Lothian conceded breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005, as it failed to ensure that either podium steps or an alloy tower were being utilised by workers considering the length of time that the equipment was being used and the degree of risk attached to the job.


'Ladder mates', which are designed to prevent slippage of the base of the ladder, were not supplied, and a limpet device for the prevention of lateral movement was also not present.

The council conceded that it failed to sufficiently plan and supervise the work in advance and that the incident could have been prevented.


As well as necessary tools and supports, organisations must ensure that workers are provided with appropriate PPE and workwear.

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