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Tue December 10 2019

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Wrong choice of access leaves painter paralysed

28 Nov Choosing ladders instead of scaffolding has cost a Northamptonshire painting contractor 160 hours of community service – and an employee his mobility.

Not the right choice this time, said HSE
Not the right choice this time, said HSE

Ian Ramsay of Mawsley, Northamptonshire was prosecuted for safety offences that resulted in an employee falling from height, leaving him permanently paralysed from the chest down.

Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court this week heard that, on 7th August 2018, an employee of Ian Ramsay fell from height while installing a roof ladder on a pitched roof at a property in Mawsley. The homeowners had hired Mr Ramsay to paint the exterior windows and soffit boards of their property, including dormer windows in the roof. The employee was setting up ladders to the dormer windows when he fell.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the incident could have been prevented if the work at height hierarchy had been followed in the planning process and if appropriate equipment had been provided to employees, such as fully compliant scaffolding. The risk assessment should have identified that this work was not short duration and that the use of ladders was therefore not appropriate.

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Ian Ramsay pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order, 160 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £2,124.28 with a surcharge of £85.

HSE inspector Rachel Grant said after the hearing: “Employers and those in control of any work at height activity must make sure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. This includes using the right type of equipment for working at height. In this instance, the painting of the soffits and windows was not short duration work and should have been done from appropriate work platforms. Ladders were not the appropriate equipment.”

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