Social club firm fined £20,000 as ladder fall leaves volunteer with life-changing injuries

Fri 4 Jan 2019
posted by Arco Professional Safety Services
A company which runs a Staffordshire social club has been fined £20,000 after a volunteer suffered life-changing injuries falling from an unsafe ladder.

Roger Ingley was using a loft ladder at Lea Hall Social Club in Rugeley when it gave way causing him to fall about 6ft onto some stairs with the ladder falling on top of him.


Mr Ingley suffered multiple bone fractures and a perforated bowel.


He has since undergone several operations, but has been left with life-changing injuries and has been unable to return to his former employment as a civil engineer.


Lea Hall Social Club Limited, which operates Lea Hall Social Club in Rugeley, has been prosecuted after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, having allowed one of its members to use an unsafe ladder.


At Cannock Magistrates Court District Judge Ian Strongman fined Lea Hall Social Club Limited £20,000 and ordered the company to pay costs of £17,000.


The court heard how on November, 29, 2015, club member and unpaid volunteer Roger Ingley had been putting away Christmas decorations when the loft ladder he was using gave way, causing him to fall.


Tony Watkin, Cannock Chase Council’s barrister, said:

“There was a systemic failure to address risks to health and safety. Failure from ladders run the risk of serious harm."


The council’s health and safety inspector Emily MacKinnon, who investigated the incident in December 2015, found a loft ladder in a poor state of repair.


Mrs MacKinnon observed that the ladder was poorly maintained and was not regularly checked to ensure it remained safe.


The club had not followed its own risk assessments and there was a lack of information and training on safe working at height.


There was no one appointed at the club with responsibility for health and safety, while management at the club had undergone several changes prior to the incident.


Barney Branston, on behalf of the company, said:

“This is a charitable arm that does an extraordinary amount of good in the community.

"The financial position of this charity is breathtakingly poor in every way. They have to juggle their debts daily."


Judge Strongman said efforts had now been made to provide safe access to the loft.


Following the incident the council has been working with the club’s management to ensure that they have adequate risk assessments, suitable training and appropriate maintenance checks.


The council’s head of economic prosperity, Dean Piper, who has responsibility for environmental health, said: “We recognise that social clubs play a valuable role in the community by providing entertainment and charitable activities, but that sometimes there is a lack of expertise in health and safety among those that manage and oversee these community assets.


“It can be difficult to know where to start but with the right help, which as the local authority we are able to provide, we can help ensure that everyone goes home safe.”


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