A WIGAN borough firm has been fined after allowing its employees to stand on the top of lorry trailers without safety measures in place to prevent a fall.
Boden & Davies Ltd, which recycles wood to produce shavings for cat litter and animal bedding, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found employees were put at risk of falling up to four metres from the trailers onto a concrete yard.
Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard workers had climbed onto the top of trailers on several occasions, prior to HSE’s visit in October 2012, to level the woodchip or if the covering sheet became snagged and could not be rolled out properly.
The firm failed to provide adequate instructions or training to drivers on how to cover the loads safely at its site at Minshulls Farm on Lower Green Lane in Astley, and there was no system in place for supervising the work.
The company had provided a built-in working platform at the front of the trailers but even this did not comply with health and safety legislation, as there was still a serious risk of employees being injured in a fall.
Workers were also not always able to use the platform to complete the task and had to climb on top of the load instead.
Boden & Davies Ltd, of Mellor in Stockport, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £709 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on June 20, 2014. Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Mike Lisle said: “Falls from height are the most common cause of workplace deaths in the UK and the lives of employees at Boden & Davies were put at risk every time they climbed on top of the lorry trailers.
“The company has since introduced a harness system which means its employees are properly protected when they carry out this work.
“If this system had been in place sooner then employees would not have been put in danger.
“It is vital firms take the risks from falls seriously and act now to improve safety rather than waiting for an HSE inspection or – in the worst case scenario – someone to be seriously injured or killed.”
The latest figures show falls from height are responsible for almost a third of all workplace deaths every year.
Information on preventing falls is available at www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height.