Company to pay £660k after 2 employees injured on same job

A well-known telecoms company has been fined £600,000 after two employees fell from heights which left them seriously injured and with long term physical and emotional damage.

The HSE investigated the company after two separate accidents, involving 2 workers who had been given a job at an automatic telephone exchange. The first engineer had been working up a step ladder installing cable amongst the lighting system when he felt a shooting pain in his arm and fell off the ladder injuring his head and back.

The company then requested a second telephone engineer was sent as his replacement whilst the first employee was taken to hospital. He too worked up a step ladder and also fell from a height and sustained serious skull and back injuries.

Both the men have lasting damage from their falls with the first employee suffering loss of taste and smell and needing physiotherapy to get fit enough to work again and the second engineer, who also lost his sense of taste and smell, losing the sight in one eye and has memory problems.

The HSE told the Crown Court that their investigations into this well-known telecoms company’s practices found that work had not been adequately risk assessed or planned out and that meant the workers had been exposed to serious risks such as working at height close to an electrical system (live metal parts of 240 volts) and it is likely that, due to poor construction, maintenance and testing, the workers had in fact received electric shocks which caused the falls.

The company was fined £600,000 and had to pay costs of £60,000 after it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

An HSE inspector said: “Work at height and working close to electrical systems needs to be properly assessed and planned so that adequate controls can be put in place. This duty rests firmly with the employer. These life changing incidents could have been avoided if … had provided safe systems of work and ensured that the electrical systems were properly constructed, maintained and tested. ”

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