Manufacturer fined after workers fall from height

in court

Rhianna Sexton

A manufacturer of shopping trolleys has been fined after two men fell approximately three meters when a metal cage they were dismantling collapsed beneath them.

Two employees at Wanzl Limited were taking apart a large metal cage as part of an ongoing program of improvement works at Prologis Park in Coventry, on 12 May 2018.

Following a visual inspection, a decision was made by Wanzl Ltd to hire scaffold towers and scaffolding boards to carry out the work. Once the scaffold towers had been erected the two employees accessed the roof of the cage.

They began to remove panels one at a time dropping them to the floor inside the walls of the cage. When several of these panels had been removed the employees noticed that the cage shook in response to movement. The roof suddenly gave way and both employees fell to the floor below.

Credit: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

One of the men, Michael Barton, who was 52 at the time, suffered a broken pelvis, injured his hip and arm. The now 57-year-old, from Walsall, was off work for 12 months following the incident.

None of the employees had training

The scaffolding tower used for accessing welding cage roof. Credit: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the work had not been properly planned, appropriately supervised, or carried out in a manner that was safe.

They added that no consideration was given to whether dismantling the structure could be carried out without working at height or if the work was within the capabilities of the company’s employees. None of the employees involved were trained in the assembly of scaffolding towers, and the injured man was not trained in working at height.

An investigation by Coventry City Council came to the same conclusion before primacy was handed to HSE.

At Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on 10 November 2023, Wanzl Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £320,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4016.35.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Charlotte Cunniffe said: “Working at height remains one of the leading causes of death and serious injury to workers in the United Kingdom.

“All work at height, including one-off activities which fall outside of a company’s usual business should be properly planned and appropriate work equipment selected. Employers must assess the competence of their employees when asking them to carry out non-routine work.”

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Manufacturer fined after workers fall from height
A manufacturer of shopping trolleys has been fined after two men fell approximately three meters when a metal cage they were dismantling collapsed beneath them.

Rhianna Sexton

SHP – Health and Safety News, Legislation, PPE, CPD and Resources

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