Building firm sentenced after worker’s friend suffers devastating injuries

A building firm has been fined after a friend of a worker who was working on the site sustained life changing injuries when he fell from a partially built house.

The 53 year old man who suffered brain damage and spinal injuries in the fall will subsequently require care for the rest of his life because of this incident.

The company were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation on the incident which happened on the 16th September 2013.

The Crown Court head that the company had been building 12 large buildings when a friend of one of the workers came onto the site. He couldn’t find anyone in the cabin so  went over to a detached house where two workers were laying floorboards on the second floor.

The workers heard him call up to say he would climb up the two ladders inside the building to come and see them. When he reached the top, he stood on a sheet of plywood covering the stairwell that gave way, sending him crashing to the concrete floor below.

He was taken to the hospital with significant head and  spinal injuries. As a part of his treatment he was placed in an induced coma and therefore is unlikely to ever fully recover from these injuries.

The HSE investigation found there was no security guard or company employee to monitor who came onto the site. The building site itself was also found to be unsafe.

The building firm was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £8,595 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, the HSE Inspector said:

“A site visitor has suffered devastating injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life because Global Construction’s working practices were fundamentally unsafe.

“Building sites have the potential to be highly dangerous places so it’s essential that only workers are allowed onto sites, and access is prevented for other individuals. It simply should not have been possible for a friend of one of the workers to climb up two ladders through the stairwell of a partially constructed house.

“He suffered severe injuries in the fall, but it could just as easily have been one of the workers who found themselves in hospital as there was a high risk of the plywood resting over the void slipping when someone stood on it.”

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

Section 3(1) states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

Source: HSE