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Prison sentences highlight dangers of working at heights


Two directors received large fines and prison sentences because of health and safety failures that resulted in the serious injury of a worker who fell from two storeys.


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said that two directors of Green Generation Renewable Services Ltd were aware of a damaged Youngman Board at one of their sites. An electrician fell from the damaged board through a stairwell and onto the concrete flooring below, suffering several fractures.


The two company directors were given suspended prison sentences and fines, while their company was fined £20,000.


Deborah Walker, an HSE inspector said: “This incident could have so easily have been prevented. Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related injuries and the risks associated with working at height are well known. Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary safety measures.”


Falls from heights are the third most common cause of work-related injuries and account for 20% of workplace fatalities. All work operations at height need to be risk assessed and appropriate safety equipment used. In this case, the court was told that the directors of the company had visited the site before the accident, so should have been fully aware that there was a faulty board and no adequate stairwell protection.


Though hard hats are compulsory workwear on constructions sites, they cannot fully protect workers if they fall from a height, and measures should be put into place to minimise risks.


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