Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service prosecuted in wake of HSE investigation
26 July 2022
STAFFORDSHIRE FIRE and Rescue Service has been prosecuted after two of its firefighters received serious head injuries – with one paralysed from the chest down – after a training exercise.
Four firefighters from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service were carrying out a rope rescue training exercise at a disused quarry near Buxton on 29 September 2019. Two of the firefighters received head injuries when rocks fell from the cliff face and hit them.
An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there were failures in the arrangements and controls put in place for the exercise.
For one thing, the risk assessment failed to consider or identify the risk of falling rocks and or the impact recent heavy rainfall may have had on the stability of the rock face.
In addition, the Fire and Rescue Service didn’t have the Health and Safety guidance for off-site training events.
Further, the HSE’s investigation found that the Fire and Rescue Service failed to provide sufficient information, instruction, training and supervision to its firefighters.
Staffordshire Commissioner Fire and Rescue Authority of Pirehill Lane pleaded guilty to failing to discharge the duties imposed upon it by Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £10,000 as well as being ordered to pay costs of £6,808.40.
Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Andrew Johnson explained: “This was a particularly tragic and, sadly, a completely avoidable incident that has had a life-changing impact on a valued firefighter and the members of that individual’s family. In this case, very simple and straightforward precautions that would have prevented the incident were absent.”
Johnson added: “I hope this case underscores a very clear message to all companies and Emergency Services that, when they plan their work at height training, it’s a meticulous and supervised process in order to ensure that all necessary safety controls are employed.”