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Council fined after theatre injury

Stafford Borough Council has been fined after a man was seriously injured in the course of working on the set in the Gatehouse Theatre.
Two employees were using a collapsible aluminium platform, known as a tallescope, to carry out work on a projector and stage curtains, at a height of around 4.5 metres. Mark Elkin was working on top of the platform, whilst his colleague moved it around the stage. However, the platform overturned as he was moving it – resulting in serious injuries to Mr Elkin.
The platform was not designed to be moved whilst someone was using it, though a subsequent investigation found that this was common practice at the theatre. A risk assessment for use of the platform had not been carried out – and would have uncovered this limitation if it had been.
Mr Elkin suffered a fractured sacrum, the bone that connects the spine to the pelvis, when he fell from the platform. He was unable to bear weight on his right leg for a month, and it was another month before he was fit to return to work. However, the investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the consequences could have been far more serious. HSE Inspector Katherine Blunt commented, “This accident was entirely preventable. The tallescope should not have been moved with anyone in the cage. This could very easily have been a fatality. As it is, Mr Elkin suffered serious injuries.”
Stafford Borough Council was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,922, plus a victim surcharge of £120. Mr Elkin also has the right to pursue a personal injury claim against the council to recover compensation for his injuries and any financial losses he incurred as a result of the accident.
Falls from height are the most common cause of fatalities at work. Back problems – frequently caused by poor lifting technique, bad training and inadequate safety procedures – are the most common work-related injury.

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