Heavy fine following step ladder fall

12 December 2016

The national truck, bus and plant division of Volvo has been fined UK£900,000 (US$1.1 million) after one of its workers fell from a step ladder and suffered head injuries.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court, in the UK, heard how a worker was servicing a large delivery truck and repairing the driver’s access rope for the cab when he fell, striking his head and losing consciousness. He was placed in a medically induced coma for two-weeks. He still suffers from ongoing complications and has been unable to return to work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the step ladder that the worker was using was damaged and its anti-slip feet were worn. It was not Volvo property and had not been maintained or checked to ensure it was suitable for use. At the time of the incident, 17 September 2015, Volvo UK had not trained its staff to select, inspect and use access equipment for work at height.

Volvo Group UK pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £900,000 (US$1.1 million) and ordered to pay costs of £5820.28 ($7368), with a £150 victim surcharge.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Nick Wright said, “This case is not about banning ladders, on many occasions they are the right equipment to use when working at height, it is about companies ensuring they properly maintain their work at height equipment and train their workers on how to inspect them and select the correct tools for the job. As this case shows, even a fall from a relatively small height can have devastating consequences.”

Chairman of the UK-based Ladder Association, Martin Brooke, later commented, “Just because it’s a simple stepladder doesn’t mean it hasn’t got to be regularly inspected and maintained like any other piece of access equipment. In fact, the Work at Height Regulations demands it.”

“As this tragic case again demonstrates, a straightforward, systematic approach to checking and recording the condition of ladders and stepladders can play a significant part in reducing falls from height.”

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