Iceland Foods was recently fined £2.5 million following an incident where a contractor suffered fatal injuries after he fell through a suspended ceiling.
The contractor was carrying out works at a store to replace the filters in an air conditioning unit which was located on a “plant platform”, above a suspended ceiling in the store’s warehouse.
The contractor fell nearly three metres from the platform, through the suspended ceiling, and he died from his injuries.
Following an investigation, it was found that there were no barriers in place to prevent falls from the platform. The platform area immediately in front of the access ladder was restricted, there were several tripping hazards in the area (including cabling and fixing points for the ladder), and there was no safety handrail in place.
Further investigations brought to light that neither any Iceland Foods employees nor contractors had carried out a risk assessment to evaluate safe access to the plant platform.
During the Court hearing, Iceland argued that they were entitled to rely on the contractors who carried out the work on the plant platform to identify the missing handrail. This was rejected by the prosecution and the Court.
An assistant director for Community Safety and Street Scene commented on the ruling by saying;
All businesses should be aware of the importance of health and safety – particularly for high risk activities such as working from heights.
Research carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found that falls from heights are the third highest cause of all fatal accidents at work.
It is essential that employers adhere to their duties and ensure that they fully assess the risks and regulations involved for their employees and any contractors that are required to carry out their duties at heights on their premises.