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British Telecom PLC have been fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £60,000 following injuries sustained by two of their workers through falling from height while working.

Teesside Crown Court heard how two of the company’s Open Reach engineers had been working at the Darlington Automatic Telephone Exchange when they were injured by falling to the ground from ladders.

One of the employees was installing a cable into a first floor ceiling by using a stepladder on the ground floor. While he was reaching into the ducting above him he felt a sudden pain in his arm and fell from the ladder. He was taken to hospital with head and back injuries. The accident was not properly investigated and a second engineer continued the job. Using a different ladder he began to reach into the ducting and also fell from the ladder and sustained serious skull and back injuries.

Serious failings were identified within the electrical systems in the building, and it was discovered that both of the injured engineers had been exposed to live metal parts – some at 240 volts; the shock from which probably threw them from the ladders.

The first engineer returned to work after one year but he had lost his sense of smell and taste, and required significant amounts of physiotherapy for several years after the accident. The second engineer suffered serious multiple fractures of the skull and spine along with being blinded in one eye and also suffering the loss of smell and taste, and in addition now has long term memory problems.

HSE inspector Laura Lyons said after the hearing: “Work at height and working close to electrical systems needs to be properly assessed and planned so that adequate controls can be put in place.  This duty rests firmly with the employer. These life-changing incidents could have been avoided if BT had provided safe systems of work and ensured that the electrical systems were properly constructed, maintained and tested.”

Working at height always carries risks, but these risks should be assessed and managed before any incidents such as the above are allowed to happen. If you or someone you know has been injured through falling from height at work, you too might be eligible for compensation. Our solicitors are on hand to help talk you through the situation and guide you as to the best way to move your claim forward. Contact us today to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.