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Prosecution working at height – working platforms

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Staircraft Group, of Bayton Road Industrial Estate, Exhall, Coventry, and part of Travis Perkins PLC, has been fined after a man working in an unsecured stillage on the forks of a fork-lift truck fell to the ground.

While working at their head office site, an employee was working from the stillage in order to clean office windows at height. This unsafe activity was one that had been carried out previously.

The unsecured stillage tipped, and the employee fell 3.5 metres to the ground. As a result of the incident, he sustained a broken leg and an injury to his elbow, the employee could have easily been killed.

There was a lack of training for employees on the dangers of working at height without the proper equipment and there were no systems of work or risk assessments in place.

At Redditch Magistrates’ Court Staircraft Group Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1974 and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,477.93.

Are Non-Integrated Working Platforms Permitted?

To encourage safer working practices, in exceptional circumstances, occasional use of non-integrated working platforms with forklift trucks is allowed in the UK.

Examples of occasional use provided by the Health & Safety Executive are;

· Non-routine maintenance tasks for which it is impractical to hire in purpose-built access equipment.

· The replacement of light fittings in high-rise warehouses if the task is not carried out as part of periodic maintenance operations.

· Tasks that would otherwise be carried out using less safe means of access such as ladders, because it is impractical to hire in purpose-designed people lifting equipment due to the short duration and occasional nature of the task, e.g. clearing a blocked gutter.

· Checking on high-level damage to racking suspected of causing an immediate risk or checking on the condition of damaged roof lights.

However, unlike the example reported in the accident, the working platform must be secured, and it must be compatible with the truck on which it is used. There are other safety conditions that should be followed too, as part of published Health and Safety Executive guidance.

John recommends that if you are in any doubt regarding the use of non-integrated working platforms, then please do feel free to give us a call for an informal chat on (01827) 488021.

Written by: John Carver

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