Maintenance job leaves man with a broken back.

A Staffordshire company has been fined £8,000 after one of its workers fell more than two metres from a scaffold tower, fracturing one vertebra, crushing another and leaving him immobilised for more than six weeks.

Barry Derbyshire, 61, from Cheadle, Staffordshire, was carrying out routine maintenance on a machine used to make exhaust pipes when he fell on 18 August 2009. It was a regular job that was carried out by a number of people on three similar machines.

Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates Court heard that Mr Derbyshire, who was working for Klarius UK Ltd, had been stooping down to try and locate an oil leak when he stood up and possibly overbalanced, falling off the edge.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed there had never been a guardrail on one edge of the scaffold as it was felt it would interfere with access to the machines.

Klarius UK Ltd, based at Brookhouses Industrial Estate, Cheadle, Staffordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. As well as being fined, it was also ordered to pay £1,892 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Lynne Boulton said:

“Barry Derbyshire did nothing wrong, but as a result of this fall, he’s been left with life-changing injuries. The company had a clear lack of appreciation of risk.

“If Klarius UK Ltd had used the right equipment and ensured there were guardrails on the scaffolding, it would never have happened.

“Falls from height were responsible for almost 400 major injuries in the West Midlands in 2008/09, with 78 in Staffordshire alone.”