Shopfitting firm prosecuted after worker broke eight ribs in ladder fall

A Birmingham-based shopfitting company – A Edmonds and Co Ltd – has been found guilty of safety failings after one of its workers fell from a ladder and sustained multiple injuries, including eight broken ribs.

The worker in question – Mr Sweet, aged 55 – was removing unwanted electrical cabling in the factory’s roof space in August 2014, working from an extendable ladder being supported by a colleague.

He lost his balance while using both hands to saw through a large section of pipe and then fell approximately 3.6 metres to the floor below.

An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Sweet and his colleague had no experience or relevant training for working at height.

The equipment they were provided with was also unsuitable for the work they were tasked with.

As a result of the fall, Mr Sweet broke five ribs in three places, three additional ribs, and a finger, as well as suffering lacerations to his shin, knee and elbow.

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court served A Edmonds and Co Ltd with a £7,000 fine and ordered the company to pay £1,198 in costs after it pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

However, Mr Sweet has since returned to the company.

Following the case, HSE inspector John Glynn said: “The factory had been rewired by an electrical contractor but A Edmonds and Co decided to task its employees with stripping out the redundant material in preference to them being laid off on a three-day week.

“However, the company failed to effectively organise and plan the work, gave them an inadequate ladder to use rather than a more suitable aluminium tower and failed to appropriately supervise and monitor what was going on.

“Untrained and inexperienced employees were left to their own devices to get on with the job, one they felt compelled to perform rather than being laid-off with reduced wages.”

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.