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Social club prosecuted after ladder fall

06 December 2018

THE LIMITED company that 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 today, District Judge Strongman fined Lea Hall Social Club Limited £20,000 and ordered the company to pay costs of £17,000.

The Court heard how, on 29 November 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 approximately two metres onto some stairs.

Following the incident Mr Ingley was rushed to hospital. 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.

Cannock Chase 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.  Had some simple ladder safety checks and low cost maintenance been carried out by the club, this unfortunate incident may never have happened.

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.

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 in place to improve overall health and safety at the club.

The council’s head of economic prosperity, Dean Piper, who has responsibility for Environmental Health, said of the case, “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.”

Dean added, “The council wants to encourage social clubs, volunteers and community groups to be proactive about health and safety particularly at this time of year when many will be getting ladders out to hang decorations or to do routine maintenance.

“For ladders we strongly urge everyone to check they are in good condition before use, checking features like the feet, rungs, stiles, locking mechanisms, and any platforms and treads”.