Heavy fine anounced for fumigation company

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Following the death of a worker in Suffolk, Dutch fumigation company Bergwerff Numansdrop BV has been fined £60,000 with £21,709 costs after a 42 year-old worker fell from a ladder.

The accident happened to Robert Schmelter, a self-employed electrician from Poland, who was installing two fumigation chambers at Anchorage Storage premises in Kenton, Suffolk in October 2007. He was coming down a ladder when he slipped and fell, hitting his head hard on the floor, the ladder coming down on him. He was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to properly plan and appropriately supervise Mr Schmelter”s work at height to ensure that it was carried out in a safe manner.

Bergwerff Numansdrop, based in Numansdorp, the Netherlands, and operating as EcO2BV in the UK at the time of the fatal incident,appeared at Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing on 21 December 2010. The company admitted breaching Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 at an earlier hearing.

HSE Inspector Nicola Surrey said: “This sad death of a man should never have happened. Bergwerff Numansdrop BV did not carry out their legal duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees.


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“Falls from height are one of the most common, yet entirely preventable, causes of injury at work. In 2008/2009, more than 4,000 major injuries were caused by falls from height at work.

“In this case, it was down to Bergwerff Numansdrop BV to make sure the work at height was planned, organised and carried out by competent persons and that the right work equipment and collective measures were selected to prevent falls.”

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