A house building firm has been sentenced after a joiner suffered serious injuries when he fell five metres from the second floor of a new development in Alderley Edge.
The 25-year-old from Congleton, who has asked not to be named, was knocked unconscious in the fall down a staircase void and was in hospital for six days as a result of his injuries.
Cheshire Housebuilders Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at its Oak Park development on Heyes Lane in Alderley Edge.
Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court heard the joiner had been laying floorboards on the second floor of a five-bedroom detached house when the incident happened on 25 September 2012.
Another worker was using the forks on a telehandler to lift a stack of roof beams onto the second floor when they swung out of control and struck the joiner. He was knocked down a two-metre square staircase void to the ground below.
His injuries included a fractured wrist, arm and punctured knee. He also needed stitches to his lower lip and tongue.
The HSE investigation found that there were no handrails or other safety measures in place around the void, despite the company’s own health and safety document highlighting this requirement.
There was also no crash decking beneath the joists to catch the workers if they fell through the gaps while they fitted the floorboards.
Cheshire Housebuilders Ltd, of Byley Road in Byley, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £3,633 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Kevin Jones said:
“The joiner suffered serious injuries in the incident but he could easily have been killed in a fall of that distance.
“The workers should never have been allowed to fit floorboards to the second floor before safety measures had been put in place, such as a handrail around the void for the stairs.
“Cheshire Housebuilders identified the need for these measures in its own health and safety document but there was absolutely no point in having the document unless it was going to act on it.”
Falls from height are the biggest single cause of workplace deaths in the construction industry. Information on improving safety is available at www.hse.gov.uk/construction.
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 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.”
3. HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk