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Firm in court over work at height and welfare issues.

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
1st March 2022

A case was brought to the Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on 17th November 2020 regarding the company Ruttle Plant (Birmingham) Ltd who were building a new aggregate recycling facility at their site at Common Bank Lane, Chorley. Part of the work included the provision of cladding to the roof, which was carried out using a cherry picker. 

You can find the full press release from HSE here.

For our students, this is a good case to study in line with the requirements of the NEBOSH General Certificate and  NEBOSH Construction Certificate syllabus. Giving details of the relevant section breached within the CDM Regulation 2015, Working at Height Regulations 2005, and helps to put into context the fines and costs incurred for such breaches.

What this case also highlights is the moral reasons for working safely, as in this case it could have, in terms of severity, been fatal or resulted in a major injury – either way, this affects the family, friends, colleagues, witnesses, and highlights that the employer had not done everything morally expected to keep his employees safe. If supervision had been introduced as a control measure (and as required by the Health and Safety at work Act 1974 Section 2(c), this incident may have been prevented.

It goes almost without saying any work at height should only be carried out by competent workers. When we say competent, this is defined by having the correct skills, knowledge, training, and experience – and of course, don’t forget the right “attitude” towards health and safety. The employer must ensure that these workers are competent. Along with this, as working at height is such high risk, even if workers are competent, there should be added measures to mitigate the risk to as low as is reasonably practicably by robust planning, monitoring and, of course, risk assessment. 

When thinking about the risk assessment, in this case, the roof was difficult to reach, and workers had to step onto the roof, with no edge protection. The risk assessment needs to be thoroughly thought through with regards to suitable controls to either prevent or mitigate any potential fall. There was no method statement in place informing employees of the measures that they needed to take or what to do, in the absence of any supervision by site management, this all added to the likelihood of the risk being realised.

Follow the link to learn more about the NEBOSH National General Certificate which relates to this blog post.