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Local worker breaks leg in fall from racking

An employee of Phoenox Textiles, a Huddersfield based company, fell from an unguarded platform whilst working to dismantle a 30-foot high racking system. Fifty-seven year-old Dennis Hunter, of Barnsley, was left with a broken leg and crushed ankle when he fell eight feet onto concrete while dismantling racking at Phoenox Textiles' site in Spring Grove Mills, Clayton West. A subsequent HSE investigation deemed he had received no training for the work and had been using the wrong type of access equipment. The company was ordered to pay just over £15,000 in fines and costs.

The men had not been given any specialist equipment to enable them to work safely at height. Ladders supplied were not suitable for the work nor secured in any way.

Huddersfield magistrates heard Mr Hunter was on a lower rack while cutting through boarding with a circular saw. The board tipped and sent him crashing to the floor, breaking his leg. The heavy board then fell on top of him crushing his left ankle and badly bruising his face. Mr Hunter underwent two operations and was in plaster for seven weeks before he was able to return to work part time.

Phoenox Textiles Ltd., which employs 45 staff across two sites, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to ensure the safety of employees. The firm was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,056 costs.

After the case, Inspector Jackie Ferguson said:

"Six workers were put at risk during the dismantling of this racking - they had absolutely no protection against falls from working at heights of up to 30 feet.  Mr Hunter was fortunate not to have suffered even worse injuries, and to date remains unable to fully bear weight on his injured leg.

"Falls from height remain the biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of injury. Working at height without the right equipment, training or systems is wholly unacceptable and extremely dangerous. HSE will not hesitate to prosecute when companies commit serious offences and put their workers' lives in danger."

For full details see HSE release YH/237/10

In Yorkshire & Humber, two workers lost their lives from falls in 2008/9 and more than 1,000 were injured, nearly half of them seriously.

Our team of experts at Access Ability has been specifically tasked with offering customers the best advice and equipment solutions for safely working at height. If you are considering working at height always ensure you conduct a thorough risk assessment and provide adequate training and specialist access equipment. Barley a month on from the creation of this exciting new division of Ability Handling our team have already successfully demonstrated the benefits of the JLG access equipment to Veolia Environmental and GB Eye Posters of Sheffield.

For more information about how to avoid slips, trip and falls in the workplace, visit: www.­hse.­gov.­uk/­shatteredlives