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Fines for Cambridgeshire firms

19/12/11: Anson Packaging Ltd and Cambridgeshire Compressors both from Ely have been fined after a subcontractor broke his back in a fall.

Anthony Strong was installing the necessary pipe work for a new machine at premises in Sutton in October 2008.

An element of the installation involved work being carried out in a roof void above the suspended ceiling, about 7 metres above the floor of the factory. This meant that Mr Strong and a colleague had to use crawl boards in the roof space to reach the position where the pipe work needed to be fitted. Both men were wearing harnesses but were unable to utilise them properly due to a lack of points to secure them to and both men had to completely detach themselves at times to be able to move into the work position. At the time of the accident, Mr Strong was on a crawl board when he fell and sustained breaks to his skull, spine and ribs.

A HSE investigation revealed that although some risk assessment had been undertaken and safety equipment provided before the work commenced, both firms failed to make sure the workers were competent to carry out work at height.

Both companies have received substantial financial penalties after admitting breaches of H&S legislation.

A HSE spokesperson commented that although falls are preventable they are amongst the most common causes of injury at work. In this incident a man has sustained serious injuries because the work was not adequately planned. Both of the companies involved had a duty to make sure that all work at height was correctly managed, whoever was carrying it out.