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Working at Height – Horse Trainer Fined After Worker Fell Through Skylight
Posted by David Cant on March 7, 2012

Alan Swinbank, a well-known and respected racing stables owner based in North Yorkshire has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after one of his workers suffered injuries at the yard. The employee working at Thorndale Farm fell more than three meters when working on a stable block at the farm. Alan Swinbank had requested Paul Cussons to prepare for some renovation work on an old stable block and cut back some of the overhanging branches from trees overhead.

Nasty Injuries Incurred Because of Fall

Paul Cussons took a chainsaw and climbed onto the stable block roof. Unfortunately while using the chainsaw Mr Cussons fell through a skylight after slipping on some leaves on the roof. Mr Cussons fell onto the concrete floor inside the stable block and broke his shoulder blades, fractured one rib and also suffered a punctured lung from the fall.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident and die to their findings they decided to hand out two Prohibition Notices to Mr Swinbank. The Prohibition notices were ordering Mr Swinbank to cease any further work activities involving the chainsaw and also prohibiting any further work at height being undertaken.

Court Hearing Heard About Long Term Suffering of Mr Cussons

Despite the hearing taking place 16 months after the incident back in July 2010, the court heard that Mr Cussons was still suffering due to his extensive injuries. He had still not been able to return to work at the stable yard where he had been employed for 26 years before the incident.  During those 26 years he had spent the first 16 years as a driver and the remaining 10 years working on maintaining the stable yard, grass areas and the gallops at Thorndale Farm.

The court fined Mr Swinbank £10,000 the horse trainer was also made to pay £6,048 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Working at Height – High Risks Not Acceptable

The Health and Safety Executive inspector told the press that Mr Cussons had been placed at high risk by his employer. The worker was lucky not to have been killed in the incident and it was very unfortunate that he was still suffering from the injuries and the awful experience of the fall. The investigations on the farm showed that Mr Cussons had worked with a chainsaw on the farm for many years despite having never received the proper training or having access to the correct safety equipment. As a result Mr Cussons should have never been given the chainsaw or asked to carry out jobs on the farm with it.

Training was also an issue when it came to performing jobs working at height. Falls from height are very common and cause multiple injuries and the loss of lives in work place accidents. Mr Cussons had never been given the correct training for working at height and also had no idea of how to plan in advance to ensure the task at hand would be carried out with minimal risks.

Health and Safety Consultants Can Help With Training and Planning

If you require training for yourself, your managers or workers you can contact the Health and Safety consultants and ask about their training packages. Call 0800 1488 677 and ask about the current health and safety services which are available.


Director at Veritas Consulting. 20+ years as a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with a brain you can pick. A trusted, risk savvy portfolio professional who is fluent in practical advice and an effective workplace solutionist.

You can find him on - Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Health and Safety at Work, Health and Safety Law, Health and Safety Services

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