21 June, 2021
Chelmsford Magistrates' Court heard how, on 19 February 2019, the injured person was using an unsecured ladder at the school to dismantle a canopy roof when the ladder slipped, causing the worker to fall and sustain fractures to his face, a fractured femur and other injuries.
An investigation by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the school did not have a risk assessment or safe system for dismantling the canopy roof which resulted in the work being conducted unsafely. No assessment was made as to the fragility of the roof before accessing it, suitable equipment was not provided, the injured person was not trained and the work was not supervised. The investigation also found that other work at height at the school was also carried out without specific planning, supervision and was not carried out safely.
Southend High School for Boys Academy Trust pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,446.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Eleanor Kinman said: "Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known."
"Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working.
"If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the serious injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented."
Any activities/tasks being undertaken by either teaching staff and/or the facilities estate team, where there is a "risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury unless precautions are taken" fall within the definition set out within the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
The HSE's health and safety annual statistics 2019/2020 show that of the 111 fatal injuries recorded, 29 related to falls from a height by far the highest number of injuries than any other work activity. In non-fatal injuries which were reported under RIDDOR, falls from height accounted for 8% of accidents.
There are many risk factors associated with work at height which requires a risk assessment based approach to the management of work activity to comply with the risk prevention hierarchy set out within the regulations. It is essential on any organisation undertaking work at height that the work activity is properly planned and a safe working procedure implemented prior to the commencement of work.