Construction firm in court for worker roof fall

A construction company have been fined for safety failings after a scaffolder who was working for them was seriously injured when he plunged seven metres through a fragile surface on a roof whilst working on an extension for a London supermarket.

The employee fractured parts of his spine and pelvis, broke four ribs and bruised his lung in the incident.

The firm were prosecuted yesterday after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that more could have and should have been done to avoid this situation ever happening.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard the company, which operates across the UK, was responsible for refurbishing and extending an existing Sainsburys store.

The employee was working for a scaffolding subcontractor, was walking in an area linking the roof space of the old store with the new extension when he stepped from an exposed timber walkway onto a section of dusty plasterboard that he assumed was the same material as the walkway.

The court were told that the company sought to control the risks posed by the fragile area by restricting access to the walkway for any employees. Instead more should have been done to physically to reduce the chances of a fall ever happening such as providing a better, properly guarded walkway or hard covers for the fragile materials.

The firm were fined £6,000 and ordered to pay a further £1,428 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Gavin Pugh said:

“The hazards presented by fragile surfaces and open edges are clear, and it is common knowledge that falls from height account for almost half of all deaths and serious injuries on construction sites. As such, the firm should be fully aware of what needs to be done to adequately protect workers.

“The safety standards surrounding the walkway and fragile area fell some way short on this occasion, and it could have cost the scaffolder his life. He suffered painful injuries that still cause him pain and discomfort, but he could just as easily have been killed.”

Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”

Source: HSE