MEL Health and Safety Consultants

A decorator suffered severe injuries after falling seven feet from an untied ladder placed in a dangerous manner on a curved section of ironwork

Alan Beutner, 58, who lived in the Cattedown area, was decorating the exterior of a house in Carlton Terrace, Lipson, Plymouth on 15 June, 2011 when the ladder twisted free and he fell onto the concrete path below. He subsequently died of medical complications, leaving a widow and three children.


Mr Beutner’s employer, David Faulkner, a partner in Roofcare Roofing and Building Contractors, appeared before Plymouth Magistrates Court today (17 January) in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).


The court heard that no scaffolding had been provided for the job. The ladder was not tied and twisted free from the curved ironwork causing him to fall.


Although he was taken to hospital in severe pain, he was discharged later the same day with five fractured ribs and surface fractures to his spinal vertebrae. He was readmitted to hospital the next day with severe pain where it was discovered he had internal injuries. Despite two emergency operations he died in hospital on 24 June.


An investigation by HSE found that the ladder was a domestic type with a maximum safe working load of 95kg and not a more robust trade ladder which should have been used. Mr Beutner weighed 110kg.


The work should have been carried out from a scaffold to prevent the risk of falls but failing that Mr Faulkner should have ensured the ladder was securely braced and tied to the building.


David Faulkner, of Cattedown Road, Cattedown, Plymouth pleaded guilty to an offence under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.


Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Martin Lee, said: “Mr Beutner suffered terrible injuries in this entirely preventable tragedy.

“This incident shows how seemingly simple tasks using a ladder can quickly turn into a serious incident if basic safety measures are not followed, such as securing the ladder to the building.


“If ladders are used to carry out work at height, no matter how short the job, it’s vital the task is carefully planned, the equipment chosen is suitably strong and can be secured and used safely.