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Worker’s fall lands Cardiff construction company in court

Date:
12 November 2014

Malcolm Milne, 59, from Caldicot, fell approximately 8ft from a single storey roof to the ground when a beam he was standing on gave way at Beach Cliff, Penarth, on 30 January 2013. He spent several days in hospital, was reliant on crutches for five months and has been unable to return to construction work since.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which today (11 November) prosecuted his employer, RHP Merchants and Construction Ltd, for failing to provide sufficient measures to prevent or mitigate a fall.

Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard that RHP was the principal contractor for a mixed development project to create commercial units, flats and town houses.

Mr Milne and a colleague were working on a disused lodge building that was being demolished to make way for the new buildings, and were removing roof tiles at the time of the fall.

HSE’s investigation established that neither Mr Milne or his co-worker had any training for the demolition work, and that Mr Milne was also untrained for working at height.

Inspectors found that RHP had not carried out any risk assessment for the work and no safety equipment had been provided for working on the roof.

The court was also told that the project manager was on holiday at the time of the incident, as was a senior site engineer. So supervision and management was lacking.

RHP Merchants and Construction Ltd, of Newport Road, Castleton, Cardiff, pleaded guilty to single breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined a total of £20,000 and ordered to pay £9,414 in costs.

After the hearing HSE Inspector David Kirkpatrick said:

“Mr Milne’s injuries could have been much worse and he could even have been killed in the fall, which was entirely preventable and would not have happened had the work been better planned, managed and monitored.

“A risk assessment would have identified the hazards and a proper plan of work would have mitigated the risks of any fall. The lack of site management and supervision during the week of the incident played a major part in what happened.

“Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace death, but simple, cost effective measures are available to reduce the risks. All too often these are not put in place, and yet the human cost of incidents involving work at height far outweigh the cost of ensuring a safe system of work is implemented.”

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 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 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 state: “The principal contractor for a project shall (a) plan, manage and monitor the construction phase in a way which ensures that, so far as is reasonably practicable, it is carried out without risks to health or safety, including facilitating (i) co-operation and co-ordination between persons concerned in the project (ii) the application of the general principles of prevention.”
  3. Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 state: “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.”
  4. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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