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Essex firm fined for Hampshire roof fall

Date:
12 August 2013

An Essex construction firm has been fined for safety failings after an employee broke his spine when he fell through a skylight opening at a construction site in Hampshire.

The worker, who does not wish to be identified, made a full recovery following the incident at Fontley Road in Titchfield, near Fareham, on 16 August 2011, but was unable to work for six weeks.

His employer, Prestige Construction Services Ltd, of Rainham, was today (12 August) prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation revealed there were inadequate measures in place to prevent or mitigate the fall.

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard the worker was helping to construct the roof of a new build community centre. There were several holes in the roof where skylights were to be placed, but they were left exposed, with no coverings or guard rails on or around the holes, and no safety nets underneath.

The worker fell almost four metres to the floor below, with his spine taking the impact. Magistrates were told that he is fortunate to have made such a swift recovery and sustained no lasting damage.

Prestige Construction Services Ltd, of West Close, Rainham, Essex, was fined a total of £30,000 and ordered to pay £9,000 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

After the hearing HSE Principal Inspector Steve Hull said:

"You would expect a construction company to be fully aware of the risks posed by working at height and to take the appropriate safety precautions. Yet that clearly didn’t happen here, and the employee could easily have paid with his life as a result.

"The incident was entirely preventable had Prestige Construction Services put effective measures in place to prevent or mitigate a fall – as is essential at all times during roofing work."

Further information on working safely at height can be found online 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 reduce work-related 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 23(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: "The principal contractor shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the construction phase plan identifies the risks to health and safety arising from the construction work (including the risks specific to the particular type of construction work concerned) and includes suitable and sufficient measures to address such risks, including any site rules."
  3. 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."

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