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Home builder in court for platform collapse

Date:
19 May 2015

A national home builder has been fined for safety failings after a bricklayer was badly injured in a three metre fall when a temporary platform collapsed.

Daniel Kersey, 64, from Royal Wootton Bassett, fractured vertebrae and sustained deep cuts and bruising in the incident at the Mitford Fields development in Reading on 5 August 2013.

He was working on a platform over a stairwell that was loaded with almost 70 concrete blocks. They crashed to the floor below with him when it gave way.

Newcastle-based Bellway Homes Ltd was sentenced last week (15 May) after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified concerns with the management of temporary works at the site.

Reading Crown Court heard that Mr Kersey was working on the last of 64 Bellway properties at Mitford Fields, and that the platform and methods used were consistent with others across the new build development.

However, HSE inspectors established that the platform wasn’t built to an approved design or checked for stability prior to being used. It was structurally unsound and the weight of the blocks combined with Mr Kersey was too much, causing it to fail.

The bricklayer was unable to work for several weeks as a result of his injuries and has been left with regular back pains. He is also unable to lift heavy weights since the fall.

The court was told it was the second time that HSE has prosecuted Bellway Homes for failings with temporary works. The company was also fined in April 2014 following an incident in December 2012 where a sub-contractor fell through a stairwell when a temporary handrail gave way at a site in Shiremoor, North Tyneside.

Bellway Homes Ltd, of Dudley Lane, Seaton Burn, Newcastle, was fined a total of £35,000 and ordered to pay a further £14,520 in costs after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to two separate breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Dominic Goacher commented:

“The need to plan, manage and monitor temporary works on construction sites is well documented, yet despite this, and the earlier prosecution, Bellway Homes failed to implement an effective system for monitoring platforms and the like throughout the lifetime of the Mitford Fields site.

“Bellway Homes is the fourth largest house builder in the UK and it would be expected the company has enough knowledge and experience to have been able to put proper controls in place.

“Mr Kersey was left in considerable pain as a result of the fall, but could easily have been killed, either by the impact or the concrete blocks as they rained down around him.”

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) and Regulation 28(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations can be found in full here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2007/320/contents/made

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