A meat producer has been prosecuted after an employee was injured adjusting storage racking.

Workers had been instructed to reposition top shelves. In doing so they climbed up on to a lower crossbar which gave way underneath them.

In falling one worker hit his head on the racking. On landing he was struck on the head and shoulders by the dislodged crossbar which fell 3.2 m.

Employees unaware of dangers

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found:

  • employees were not aware of the dangers associated with climbing storage racking
  • the company had failed to adequately manage the risks associated with working at height
  • no safe system of work was in place

York House (Meat Products) Limited pleaded guilty to breaking the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

It was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £20,568 in costs.

The HSE said the incident could have been prevented had the company provided a risk assessment or a safe system of work for the task.

It added that employees should have been made aware of the risks associated with climbing storage racking.

What the law says

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 say every employer must make sure work at height is:

  • properly planned
  • appropriately supervised
  • carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe

There is a clear expectation that work at height is planned and safe – and climbing on racking is clearly not a recognised safe system of work!

Ellis Whittam discusses work at height further here.

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