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Pipework company fined for workplace injury

Plastic pipework supplier Polypipe has been fined after a fork lift truck that had been lowering a cage containing two workers to the ground hit one of the men.
The man, who has asked not to be named, had been standing on top of a lorry, loading coiled plastic pipes at Polypipe's site on Boston Road Industrial Estate, Horncastle, Lincolnshire.

Skegness Magistrates' Court was told that, to get from the 14 feet high lorry, he and a colleague stepped into a cage supported on a fork lift truck to be lowered to the ground.

However, the cage caught on the side of the lorry and started to fall. The fork lift driver tried to catch it by piercing the side of the cage with the forks but unfortunately a fork hit one of the men. He was hospitalised with fractured ribs and unable to work for three weeks.

After the 16 June, 2009 incident, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the company had failed to ensure the work was properly planned or carried out safely.

Polypipe pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £20,000. The company was also ordered to pay compensation of £5,000 to the injured person and £4,765 costs. HSE inspector Emma Madeley said: 'This incident was completely avoidable and stems from Polypipe's entire system of work being fundamentally unsafe. There should have been a system for loading that didn't involve unsafe work at height and employees should have been provided with a safe method of getting back down to the ground.

'Falls from height are the biggest causes of workplace deaths and it's crucial that employers make sure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out to protect staff from these risks. The positive thing to come from this incident is that the company has now taken steps to resolve these issues and has introduced an acceptable system of work.'

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

For more information on falls from height visit:
11 March 2011


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