Falling Objects at Work

A manufacturing company has been fined £25,000 after an employee suffering multiple injuries when he was struck by two steel discs, each weighing a quarter of a tonne.

The accident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which showed that the discs fell as a result of unsuitable work equipment and an inadequate risk assessment.

Employees in England and Wales are protected by numerous health and safety regulations. Of particular relevance in this case is the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. This company was found to have breached regulation 4 which states;

1. Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is so constructed or adapted as to be suitable for the purpose for which it is used or provided.
2. In selecting work equipment, every employer shall have regard to the working conditions and to the risks to the health and safety of persons which exist in the premises or undertaking in which that work equipment is to be used and any additional risk posed by the use of that work equipment.
3. Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is used only for operations for which, and under conditions for which, it is suitable.
4. In this regulation “suitable” means suitable in any respect which it is reasonably foreseeable will affect the health or safety of any person.

If an employee is struck by a falling object whilst at work, the employer might also find that they are liable for damages under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and in particular regulation 13 which provides;

1. So far as is reasonably practicable, suitable and effective measures shall be taken to prevent any event specified in paragraph (3).
2. So far as is reasonably practicable, the measures required by paragraph (1) shall be measures other than the provision of personal protective equipment, information, instruction, training or supervision.
3. The events specified in this paragraph are:
(a)any person falling a distance likely to cause personal injury;
(b)any person being struck by a falling object likely to cause personal injury.
4. Any area where there is a risk to health or safety from any event mentioned in paragraph (3) shall be clearly indicated where appropriate.
5. So far as is practicable, every tank, pit or structure where there is a risk of a person in the workplace falling into a dangerous substance in the tank, pit or structure, shall be securely covered or fenced.
6. Every traffic route over, across or in an uncovered tank, pit or structure such as is mentioned in paragraph (5) shall be securely fenced.
7. In this regulation, “dangerous substance” means
(a)any substance likely to scald or burn;
(b)any poisonous substance;
(c)any corrosive substance;
(d)any fume, gas or vapour likely to overcome a person; or
(e)any granular or free-flowing solid substance, or any viscous substance which, in any case, is of a nature or quantity which is likely to cause danger to any person.

The above list of regulations is by no means exhaustive yet despite the extent of health and safety protection afforded to employees, thousands of people each year find themselves injured as a result of accidents at work.

If you have had an accident at work Gregory Abrams Davidson LLP specialise in Employer’s Liability Law and can advise you. Please contact us on the above number.