A-Plant fined £200,000 after fatal fall

Aaron Morby 13 years ago
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A-Plant has been fined £200,000 after a worker fell 5m to his death at one of its depots.

The national plant hirer was also ordered to pay £15,698.30 in costs at Maidstone Crown Court today.

Phillip Pearce, aged 55, from the Medway area, had worked as a fitter at the company’s depot at Tovil, Maidstone  for less than three months when he died on 16 August 2006.

Mr Pearce was working on  site huts and storage containers and had climbed on top of two stacked units to attach lifting chains when he fell 5m to his death.

The court heard that despite the depot handling up to 15 accommodation unit movements a day, depot managers failed to ensure  workers were aware of the procedure and did not ensure that the work was only done by those trained, equipped and authorised.

A-Plant  had a written procedure for work on top of accommodation units in its depots and at customers’ sites. This required workers to wear a safety harness and inertia reel line and climb a secured ladder.

HSE inspectors found that workers at the depot had not been given this kit or been trained to use it. Most did not know the company had a special procedure for doing this work.

HSE Inspector John Underwood said: “This was a wholly avoidable incident which led to a tragic and totally unnecessary loss of life.

“It is completely inexcusable that the company had indentified the risks, prepared an adequate procedure to manage the risk, and then failed to implement that procedure to protect their workers.

“Health and safety is not just about filling in forms or thinking about risk, it’s about taking action to prevent people being killed or injured while trying to do their job.

“I hope this case will be an example to other companies that not only must health and safety be taken seriously but also followed through.”

Last year more than 4,000 employees suffered major injuries after falling from height at work, and 21 workers in the construction industry died

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