Three companies fined £232,000 for failing to protect employees… Two construction workers at a building site in Exeter sustained serious injuries after the platform they were working on collapsed and they fell down a lift shaft.
Three companies prosecuted by the HSE were ordered to pay a total of £232,000 in fines and costs as a result of safety failings that led to this accident. These were all construction companies involved in the work at the site.
The men had been working on a project to build new student accommodation at Exeter University when the incident occurred in February 2008. Before the accident occurred one of the companies responsible for safety around the lift shaft had been issued with a Prohibition Notice by the HSE after inspectors visited the site. The Notice banned the company from allowing work to take place in the vicinity of the lift shaft until all necessary safety measures had been introduced. A wooden platform was subsequently placed over the lift shaft but just two weeks after this it collapsed causing two construction workers to fall four stories to the ground floor.
One of the men suffered a broken back and the other suffered two broken legs as a result of the impact of the fall. The man who fractured his legs had to use a wheelchair for several months and has not yet been able to return to work.
HSE inspector Simon Chilcott spoke after the hearing:
“This was a terrifying incident for the two men which could easily have let to their deaths.
“As it was, they suffered severe injuries, which were life-changing in the case of one of the men.
“Contractors and employers must make sure they have taken all reasonable measures to provide a safe environment for workers to work in and that any temporary structures are secure.”
The construction companies responsible for safety at the site each pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and made commitments to take all possible measures to ensure the safety of their workforce when working at heights in the future.