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Falls from height shatter lives says HSE following prosecution

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is highlighting how falls from height can shatter lives after an incident in Norwich lead to a company being prosecution.

Air Plant Dust Extraction Ltd in Leicester, was fined 5,000 with 5,147 costs, at Norwich Magistrate's Court yesterday afternoon (April 7), after pleading guilty to a breach of section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

On the 12th October 2006, Mark Lowen from Leicester was fitting a new extraction system at a joinery company in Attlebridge, Norfolk. He was working approximately six-foot off a stepladder outside the customer workshop, when he fell off and landed on the ground. The stepladder was stood on an uneven surface and Mark was handling a long length of ducking, which may have affected his balance.

He suffered severe damage to his back causing him to be off work for around four months and when returning to work was forced to change his job role, which affected his pay.

The HSE investigation revealed that a proper risk assessment was not carried out for the work and Mark had not been trained in working at height safely.

HSE Inspector, Joanne Williams said:

"These types of incident happen more often than people imagine. Every week, one person in the UK dies due to a slip, trip or fall in the workplace and in the East last year they accounted for nearly a third of all accidents."

"But what these figures don't reflect is the extent to which a slip, trip or fall can affect individual workers and their families. It can lead to major injuries, and a lifetime of disability or time off work. The fall that Mark suffered has left him with lasting back problems and affected his earning capability at work."

"I hope this prosecution makes it clear to employers that they need to properly manage the risks of working at height and that HSE will not hesitate to take action against those who fall short of the law in such a way."

The HSE's 'Shattered Lives' campaign highlights the devastating consequences that slips, trips and falls can cause. For more information on the 'Shattered Lives' campaign please visit www.hse.gov.uk/shatteredlives/index.htm.