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Construction companies in court after worker sustains head injuries in fall

Date:
29 January 2015

Two separate divisions of a Kent construction conglomerate have been fined after a worker was seriously injured in a fall through a fragile garage roof in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.

The 35 year-old builder from Brazil, who does not want to be named, was helping to remove the roof with a colleague when it collapsed on 8 February 2013.

Both men were sent crashing some two metres to the floor below. His co-worker escaped with only minor cuts and bruising, but he sustained serious head injuries. These injuries include a traumatic brain injury, which required a number of reconstructive surgeries. The injured worker is still suffering with seizures, is forced to have on going medical treatments, and has struggled to return a normal life.

Swanley-based Cablesheer (Asbestos) Ltd and Cablesheer Construction Limited, both part of the wider Cablesheer Group, were prosecuted after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified clear safety failings with the roof work.

High Wycombe Magistrates Court heard the companies failed to ensure workers knew the clear danger of working around fragile buildings. Had workers been trained to understand the dangers of fragile roofs then a new method of work could have been planned.

The work was not planned with a reasonable amount of forethought as it was deemed low risk.

Cablesheer Construction Ltd, of London Road, Swanley, Kent was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay a further £756.50 in costs at High Wycombe Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height regulations 2005.

Cablesheer (Asbestos) Limited, of the same address, was also fined  £10,000 with £756.50 costs for a separate breach of the same legislation.

After the hearing, Inspector Sarah Hill from the Health & Safety Executive said: “The risks from working on fragile roofs are well documented and the hierarchy of controls well established. On this occasion the risks were not properly managed or controlled by either of the respective Cablesheer companies and the fall through the fragile roof was therefore totally preventable.

“There were clear failings with training and a lack of safety measures and equipment, and a worker was seriously injured as a result. Thankfully his colleague escaped relatively unharmed, but he too was put in unnecessary danger. A striking feature of this case is the fact the work could have been planned and managed without the need to physically access the roof in the first place.

“While both the defendant companies did not seek to gain financially by not providing adequate training and work equipment, they accept that not all reasonable practicable steps had been taken to prevent the accident.”

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.    Regulation 9(1) states: “Every employer shall ensure that no person at work passes across or near, or works on, from or near, a fragile surface where it is reasonably practicable to carry out work safely and under appropriate ergonomic conditions without his doing so.

4.    Further HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press

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