62 year-old breaks pelvis in two places after two and a half metre fall… A builder who was near retirement age suffered near fatal injuries after falling from a damaged plank while working on a site in South Warwickshire.
The construction firm based in Stratford-upon-Avon have since been prosecuted by the HSE after their investigation revealed that the damaged scaffolding plank was the cause of the fall.
Leamington Spa Magistrates’ Court heard that the 62 year-old accident victim had been standing on a single plank of scaffolding board when the wood suddenly snapped underneath him and he fell two and a half metres onto a protruding joist below. He sustained serious injuries including a broken pelvis and a severe cut to his left thigh that was so deep it cut as far as his thigh muscle.
As a result of his injuries the man now has a permanent scar on his left thigh as a reminder of the accident that occurred on 28 July 2010. He also could not return to work for six months while his injuries healed.
The HSE also found, that apart from failing to provide scaffolding boards of sufficient quality, the construction company had also neglected to ensure there was edge protection which is an important safety consideration for working from height. Furthermore the HSE found that the company had not installed any accident prevention equipment like bags or netting that might have prevented the man from falling or at the very least minimized the impact of a fall. Finally there was no evidence of any risk assessments or method of work statements.
Slips, trips and falls are one of the most common cause of accidents in the workplace in the UK and the HSE expect a high standard of safety protocols for people working in high risk industries like construction. Paul Thompson, the HSE inspector who investigated the accident commented after the hearing:
“Mr Stuart suffered very serious injuries in this incident, which would not have happened if Sibbasbridge had changed its working practices following a previous prosecution for a similar failing.
“A damaged scaffolding board collapsed underneath the man, causing him to fall into an area that hadn’t even been boarded out.
“The company did nothing to prevent falls from the scaffolding plank or reduce the risk of serious injury in the event of a fall.
“Clear guidance on working at height is available from HSE and it is regrettable that the company failed to follow this.”
The construction company pleaded guilty today to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £12,000 in addition to costs of £3,353.