Firm fined £500,000 for health & safety work at height offences

A Bulgarian construction firm working in Derby has been fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,013.25 after its workers were seen accessing a roof 11m high from a pallet on the forks of a telehandler with no restraints to stop them falling from the open edges.

The conviction came as a result of a member of the public reporting unsafe working practices during the construction of an adventure course in Markeaton Park, Derby.

Derby Magistrates’ Court heard on 18 August how a passing member of the public noticed work at height being carried out from a pallet on the forks of a telehandler at the site in Markeaton Park, where a high ropes adventure course was being constructed by Bulgarian firm Walltopia.

The member of the public first reported this to the company. But, despite receiving assurances the matter would be dealt with, the work continued in the same way. The matter was then reported to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

HSE's investigation at the site found work was taking place on a section of roof 11m off the ground without the use of any means to prevent two workers falling from the open edges. In addition, these workers were accessing the roof by climbing on to it from a cherry picker.

Walltopia of Bulgaria Boulevard, Letnitsa, Bulgaria, pleaded guilty and was fined £500,000 with £8,013.25 costs for breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the case, HSE Inspector Lee Greatorex said: "Using a pallet on a telehandler for planned work at height is an unacceptable means of access. It appears that the company failed to put in place control measures after being alerted about this.

"Walltopia failed to follow recognised industry standards during work at height and did not make effective changes to the control of its working methods following the matter being brought to its attention. Work at height should always be sufficiently planned and managed to protect workers from being exposed to extreme risks from falls from height. In this case someone could have suffered significant injuries or death."

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