A linen hire service and a laundry company have both been fined for safety breaches after a worker fell from a ladder while trying to clear a blockage in an industrial-sized laundry machine.
A female employee of the linen hire company shattered her left ankle after she fell when the ladder slipped. She later needed 13 screws inserted in her foot to help repair the damage and has been unable to work since.
Westminster Magistrates heard that the laundry company had provided the reconditioned machine and installed it without suitable access steps that had been ordered by the linen service. In their place, the linen service provided workers with a standard office chair to climb on when they needed to access the machine.
The worker had decided to use a ladder to reach and clear a machine blockage after having nearly fallen on a previous occasion while using the chair. The unsecured ladder slipped sending her falling to the factory floor.
The laundry company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £16,500 in costs after being found guilty of a breach of Section 6(3) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The linen service entered a guilty plea in August last year to a breach of Section 2(1) of the same Act. It was also fined £5,000 with £4,500 to pay in costs.
"Falls from height remain the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of injury," commented HSE Inspector Nick Fry.
The latest HSE statistics show that 40 workers were killed and more than 3,400 were seriously injured in falls from height in 2011/12.
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