HSE prosecution showed APlant failed to follow its own safety guidelines

A Warrington-based plant hire company has been fined £200,000 after an employee fell five metres to his death.

Ashtead Plant Hire, trading as APlant, failed to follow its own health and safety guidelines and has been successfully prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and was also ordered to pay £15,698 in costs at Maidstone Crown Court.

Phillip Pearce worked as a fitter at the company’s depot where they provide portable accommodation units.

On the day of the accident, 16 August 2006, Pearce climbed on top of a stack of two units to help attach lifting chains. He fell more than five metres and died at the scene.

This was despite the fact the firm had written procedures for working at height in place, requiring people to wear a safety harness and inertia reel line and climb a secured ladder.

The HSE’s investigation found that workers at the depot had not been issued with this kit or been trained to use it and most did not know the company had a special procedure for doing this work.

The court heard that despite the depot handling up to 15 accommodation unit movements a day, management at the depot did not ensure that workers were aware of the procedure and did not ensure that the work was only done by those trained, equipped and authorised.