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Air conditioning firm fined after apprentice falls through ceiling

Date:
14 October 2013

An air conditioning company has been fined after an apprentice engineer broke his arm when he fell three metres through a fragile plasterboard ceiling.

The 20-year-old from Wrexham, who does not wish to be identified, was installing an air conditioning system in the loft space above an office at Llaneurgain House in Northop when the incident happened on 14 March 2012.

Select Air Services Limited was prosecuted on Friday (11 October) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the firm had failed to put adequate safety measures in place.

Mold Magistrates’ Court heard the company had not provided enough crawling boards, which meant employees had to step from joist to joist to carry out the work. As a result, there was nothing to prevent the young worker from falling through the fragile plasterboard when he lost his footing.

He fell three metres to the floor below, broke his left arm and was off work for ten weeks as a result of his injuries.

Select Air Services Limited, of Sefton Business Park, Olympic Way, Aintree, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £6,600 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Chris Wilcox said:

“The risks associated with falling through a ceiling are something most of us would recognise from our own lofts at home, yet Select Air Services Limited failed to implement basic safety measures to minimise the risk of falls.

“The workers were installing the air conditioning system above a fragile plasterboard ceiling but their employer neglected to plan the work properly and provide simple safeguards such as crawling boards or safety decking that could have prevented a fall.

“The dangers of working at height are well known and this prosecution should serve as a reminder to all contractors to ensure work is properly planned and robust safety precautions are put in place. Employers have a legal duty to manage safety and failing to do so too often ends in tragedy.”

Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/falls

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. 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 from a distance liable to cause personal injury.”
  3. Further HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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