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Steeplejack firm pays out £11,000 after worker falls through rotten boards

19 Jul 10 A steeplejack firm has been fined £6,600 after one of its workers fell more than six metres to the ground, suffering five cracked vertebra, a broken pelvis and serious internal injuries.

A steeplejack firm has been fined £6,600 after one of its workers fell more than six metres to the ground, suffering five cracked vertebra, a broken pelvis and serious internal injuries.

The worker, who does not want to be named, was employed by The Cedars Steeplejack (Midlands), to remove bird debris and clean the bell chamber at The Church of St Peter, Lenton in Lincolnshire on 12 August 2008 when the incident happened.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation showed that two workers had gained access to the spire of the church via the staircase and set out scaffolding planks to stand on to carry out the work.

The planks had been laid on rotten floor boards, which gave way when one of the workers stepped onto the board, causing him to fall 6.3 metres to the floor below. His injuries were so severe that he has been unable to work since the incident.

Grantham Magistrates' Court heard that the company did not adequately assess the risks from the work in the bell chamber and did not select the right equipment to ensure it could be done safely.

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The Cedars Steeplejack (Midlands), based at The School Rooms, Corby Road, Irnham in Grantham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 4 (1)(a) and 4 (1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. As well as the fine, the company was ordered to pay £4,774 costs.

Prosecuting, HSE Inspector Martin Giles said: "The work in the bell chamber required proper planning as it was a difficult area to work in. Unfortunately, the system of work was unsafe and no one had properly checked the condition of the rotten floor boards before work began.

"This worker was extremely lucky to survive such a fall - but as a result he's been left with long term injuries and unable to work.

"Falls from height are the biggest causes of workplace deaths and it's crucial that employers make sure work is properly planned, appropriately supervised and that sufficient measures are put in place to protect staff from these risks."

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