MEL Health and Safety Consultants

The UK division of global documents security company Iron Mountain has been fined for safety failings after an employee fractured his arm in a fall from a dangerous step ladder.

The 48-year-old, from Barking, who does not want to be named, damaged the radius bone in his left elbow in the incident at the company’s site at Cody Road in Newham on 12 June 2012.

Iron Mountain (UK) Ltd was prosecuted yesterday (5 February) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified that the ladder he was using wasn’t fit for purpose.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard the step ladder collapsed as the worker tried to reach the upper level of a racking system, sending him crashing at least a metre to the floor below. He was unable to return to work for several weeks.

HSE established that the ladder was in a poor condition and was critically weakened by a crack that eventually caused it to fail.

The court was told it was one of two step ladders available to staff that had deteriorated beyond the point of safe use. Had both been replaced as was necessary, then the incident could have been avoided.

Iron Mountain (UK) Ltd, of Tooley Street, London, SE1, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £8,940 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Monica Babb commented:

“Ladders are often seen as an everyday item that can be taken for granted. They are not routinely checked, which is vital when it comes to identifying potential defects.

“Yet when they fail the consequences can be very serious. On this occasion a worker sustained a painful elbow injury, but it could have been much worse had he fallen from a greater height or landed in a different position.

“Iron Mountain (UK) Ltd should have inspected the step ladders it made available for staff and provided replacements. Checking ladders is an essential aspect of safely managing work at height, and I hope today’s prosecution sends a clear message to others.”