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Lack of Rescue Planning Contributed to Fatality

20th June 2017

A North East based industrial services giant has been fined due to failings in their work at height rescue planning.

The prosecution follows a fatal accident on 21 October 2013 at the Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth, when a 57 year old employee was helping to dismantle temporary roofing at the dockyard using a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP). The deceased employee’s colleagues found him trapped between a roof beam and the controls of the MEWP. There was a delay in the casualty being lowered to ground and the injured worker subsequently died of a pre-existing heart condition.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had not properly planned the work on a MEWP in restricted overhead areas. It was also found that other employees had not received suitable training in the emergency lowering procedure of the elevated platforms and no practice drills had been carried out.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and been fined £130,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,388.36.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Helena Allum said: “If the company had trained other employees to use the mobile elevated work platform in emergency situations, the deceased employee would have been lowered to the ground more swiftly. This case highlights the need for duty holders to properly plan all work at height beforehand, including emergency planning and rescue situations.”

Rescue is a fundamental element of all work at height planning and should be given as much consideration as the work activity itself. Specific scaffolding industry guidance is available in the form of the NASC’s SG19:17 – ‘A Guide to Formulating a Rescue Plan’.

Simian clients requiring assistance with rescue planning, whether this be for scaffolding or MEWP work or any other activities at height, are free to contact their Account Manager for advice on 0345 602 2418 (option 1).