The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning that slips and falls can be costly - after a company was held responsible for a driver breaking his ankle and was fined a total of £5,600 and ordered to pay costs of £8,951. The driver, an agency worker, had been working at the company for just two weeks when the incident took place.
The company was prosecuted for failing to ensure there was a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the wooden decking near a diesel pump in one of its depots and failing to protect drivers using the pump. The company was also guilty of failing to ensure every floor in the workplace was suitable for the purpose for which it was used and was not slippery.
The company was fined £2,400 by the Courts after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 12 (1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992. It also pleaded guilty to the charge of breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the court imposed a fine of £3,200.
The driver was stranded after slipping as he prepared to fill his truck with diesel. After taking just two steps and slipping over, he was alone for 20 minutes until managing to contact his wife by mobile phone and she called an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived, they too found the surface to be slippery and had to remove some of the decking before they could move the man to the ambulance.
Surgeons needed to insert a plate and two pins to repair his broken ankle that was also dislocated.
It was not the first time drivers had slipped in the area, as the area was slippery and the pump had a minor drip leak when not in use, but no injuries had occurred before. The area has since been concreted at the suggestion of HSE and the Health and Safety Laboratory.
The dangers could easily have been identified with a basic risk assessment and avoided by installing a different type of flooring. Wooden decking was the incorrect selection of material for an outdoor area that was subject to weather conditions and fuel spillage. The risk assessments that had been undertaken bore little reality to the actual hazards highlighted and demonstrated the inadequate training given to those employees undertaking them.