The circumstances were:
- Laundryquip LLP had provided the reconditioned machine and installed it without suitable access steps that had been ordered by AAA Linen Services.
- Instead, AAA provided workers with a standard office chair to climb on when they needed to access the machine.
- On 20 December 2010 a team leader at AAA Linen Services decided to use a ladder to reach and clear a machine blockage after having nearly fallen on a previous occasion while using the chair.
- The unsecured ladder slipped sending her falling to the factory floor.
- She shattered her left ankle after she fell when the ladder slipped.
Laundryquip was fined £21,500 (inc costs).
AAA Linen Services Ltd was fined £9,500 inc costs).
The HSE Inspector said:
"AAA Linen failed to ensure their employees' safety when they needed to work at height to clear blockages on this large laundry machine. A chair was clearly the wrong choice of equipment and exposed workers to unnecessary risk. Their action led to an avoidable incident in which a woman was caused a great deal of pain and suffering. All work at height must be properly planned, organised and carried out by competent persons. Measures need to be put in place to avoid, prevent or reduce the risks of falls. Laundryquip LLP, as the supplier of the machine, had a duty to ensure that the machine was safe when put to use and, in this instance, they fell well below the acceptable standard of care.
Falls from height remain the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of injury."