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Local authority fined for fall

West Lothian Council has been fined £10,000 for health and safety failings which left a worker with severe injuries.

At Livingston Sheriff Court, the local authority pled guilty to a single charge under the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The court heard that on 9 July 2013 a painter and decorator for the council was painting the external window frames at the front of a property in Bathgate.

The ladder he was on slid away from the wall and he fell more than four metres. He suffered serious injury to his left hip and leg and eight fractures to his knee.

The court was told that an alloy tower or podium steps should have been used given the level of risk involved and the duration for which employees were expected to use the equipment.

The court also heard that ladder mates, designed to stop the ladder slipping and a limpet device to prevent lateral movement had not been supplied. The council accepts that it failed to properly plan and supervise the work.

The council has completely overhauled its system for working at height since the incident and developed a new working at height risk assessment template.

Laura Buchan, Head of Health and Safety Division said:

“This incident could easily have been prevented had suitable and sufficient measures been put in place

"Falls from height are one of the greatest single causes of death and serious injury to workers within the construction industry.

“Hopefully this prosecution and the sentence will remind other employers that failure to fulfil their obligations can have tragic consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings."