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Lad fell to death from stepladder

17 May 23 A Sheffield based construction and telecoms contractor has been ordered to pay £750,000 after an employee fell from a stepladder and was impaled on metal piping.

Linbrooke Services Limited was found guilty of breaches of health and safety and working at height regulations at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on 30th March 2023.

The company was fined £550,000 and  ordered to pay the deceased’s family £200,000 in compensation.

The court heard that electrician Matthew Mason was fatally injured while installing a public address system at Bearsden railway station on 5th June 2018. 

The 20-year-old was trying to free speaker cabling that had become stuck when he fell backwards from a stepladder onto a section of metal piping that was being used as a handle on a cable drum. This piping pierced his side, causing fatal internal injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The prosecutor led evidence over the course of the 14-day trial showing that the company had failed to appropriately plan and risk-assess the work and put in place a safe system of work. 

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Linbrooke was found to have failed to adequately identify the risks involved with pulling cables through a conduit at height even though it had been informed of the problems met by a subcontractor in an earlier attempt.

Stepladders were unsuitable for the work being carried out, the court heard. There were insufficient measures in place to prevent a fall from height. They also failed to adequately identify the risks involved with the use of improvised cable dispensing methods or ensure that the surrounding area was free of material that could cause injury in the event of a fall.

The £750,000 that the court ordered Linbrooke Services to pay represents three times last year’s profit for the £42m turnover company.

Speaking after the sentencing, Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the COPFS, said: “Matthew Mason lost his life in circumstances which were foreseeable and avoidable. His death could have been prevented had Linbrooke Services Limited put in place appropriate planning, supervision, and protective measures to manage the risk of working at height.   

"It is well known that falls from height are one of the single greatest causes of death and serious injury to workers within the construction industry.  From the evidence heard here there needs to be an increased recognition and rigour within the industry in addressing the risks associated with the use of stepladders. This prosecution should remind duty holders that a failure to fulfil their obligations can have fatal consequences and they will be held accountable for this failure.”

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