Chatteris firm fined for health and safety breaches after worker breaks his back

A CHATTERIS company has been fined �18,000 for health and safety breaches following an accident in which a 24 year-old worker broke his back.

Another Cambridgeshire firm has also been fined, bringing to over �100,000 the total they must pay in fines and costs.

HSE Inspector Gavin Bull said: “Falls from height are one of the most common, yet preventable, causes of injury at work.

“In this case a man suffered serious personal injuries because work at height was not properly planned “

“Both companies had a duty to ensure that work at height undertaken by their own employees, or on their behalf by staff employed by subcontractors, was properly managed with safe systems of work agreed and implemented”

“Although some work equipment was provided to two workers to enable them to undertake the work at height it was not suitable for the particular roof space and the workers were not trained in its correct use.”

Anson Packaging Ltd of Sutton and Cambs Compressor Engineering Ltd of Turf Fen Business Park, Chatteris, were fined a total of �68,030 with �37,743.72 costs after the worker broke his back in a fall from a roof void.

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Anthony Strong, a pipe fitter employed by subcontractor Cambs Compressor Engineering at the time, was tasked to install pipe work required for the installation of a moulding machine at Anson Packaging’s premises At Elean Business Park, Sutton, on 29 October 2008.

Part of the pipe work installation was taking place in the roof void above a suspended ceiling, a distance of 6.5 metres to the factory floor. It required that Mr Strong and a co-worker use a crawl board to travel from the protected walkways in the roof to the place where the pipe work was to be installed.

Both men had harnesses but they were unable to use them effectively due to a lack of suitable attachment points in the roof void. At times both men had to detach themselves completely to move across the void to the work position.

Mr Strong was using the crawl board between beams in the roof void to traverse to his working position when he fell to the floor, suffering fractures to his spine, skull and ribs.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that, despite the fact that some measures were taken to assess risk and some work at height equipment was provided prior to the work being carried out, both Anson Packaging and its subcontractor Cambs Compressor Engineering had failed to ensure that Mr Strong and his co-worker were competent to undertake work at height and given appropriate equipment and a safe system of work.

The two companies appeared at Cambridge Crown Court on Monday.

Anson Packaging admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Cambs Compressor Engineering admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 5 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Anson Packaging was fined �50,015.00 with �29,291.09 costs, while Cambs Compressor Engineering was fined �18,015 with �8,452.63 costs.