Volvo’s truck and bus division, which was fined £900,000 last month after a worker was seriously injured after falling from a step ladder that was not the firm’s property, had not carried out any inspections of access equipment at its Enfield depot for over a year, an HSE inspector has said.
Investigating inspector Nick Wright told Health and Safety at Work that an internal audit reported the non-compliance seven months before the incident. Afterwards, other defective items of access equipment were destroyed.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that on 17 September 2015, the worker was servicing a MAN delivery truck at Volvo Group UK’s depot. He was using a 2m stepladder when he fell and hit is head, probably on the truck bed.
Colleagues found him lying face down and unresponsive on the floor, with the A-frame step ladder close by. He developed swelling on his brain and doctors at the Royal London hospital placed him in a medically induced coma for two weeks. He has since undergone physiotherapy and speech and language therapy, and has not returned to work.
The approximately 30 technicians at the depot serviced heavy goods lorries and large passenger vehicles, such as coaches, and would routinely use a range of access equipment – including hop up platforms, ladders and aircraft steps – to reach the high parts of vehicles.
While the 20 year old ladder was mechanically sound, Wright said that it was heavily worn, with worn away tread on the rungs and it had a missing antislip foot.
“It’s a bit of a mystery where the ladder came from. It’s not a Volvo asset, but it found its way into the workshop. The company aren’t clear where it came from. It had been brought into the workshop, but we don’t know who brought it in.
“Volvo had no register of what equipment was actually available in the workshop, so it didn’t know what was in there and what wasn’t.
The court heard that the firm had not trained its staff to select, inspect and use access equipment for work at height.
“They’d not really been given any instructions or training on how to select equipment appropriate for the job and they’d not been given any instructions on the common defects that they need …