Seven metre fall inflicts multiple fractures on contracted worker…
Two companies have been fined after a worker from Birmingham was seriously injured when he fell seven metres through a skylight.
The incident occurred while the 36-year-old accident victim was painting the roof of an industrial unit in Kettering on January 11, 2012. The man stepped on the skylight area of the roof while painting and it suddenly shattered causing him to fall onto the concrete floor below.
He sustained multiple fractures as a result of the fall, particularly on the right side of his body where he broke his leg, hip, elbow, wrist and pelvis. He also suffered head injuries in the fall and had lacerations to the face. He spent a total of three weeks in hospital and had to undergo major reconstructive surgery. He has since returned to his home but he still lacks basic mobility and his leg remains in traction.
The HSE investigation into the accident uncovered several safety breaches leading to the decision to prosecute both the building contractor and the decorating firm that subcontracted the work.
Corby Magistrates’ Court heard that both companies had failed to undertake adequate risk assessments which are particularly vital for the high risks associated with working at heights. The court was also told that there were a lack of fall prevention facilities on the site like safety nets, harnesses or skylight covers.
The construction firm pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 4(1)(a) and 9(2)(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £4,500 and ordered to pay £1,932 in costs while the decorating company also pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc act 1974 and was fined £3,000 in addition to costs of £1,932.
The accident victim commented on how his life had been affected:
“This has turned my life upside down. All of a sudden everyday things that you take for granted can’t be done any more.
“I didn’t see my children for the three weeks I was in hospital because I didn’t want them to see me in such a mess. When I came home I couldn’t pick them up or cuddle them because of my injuries and I miss not being able to do things with them, like play outside.
“I would like to be able to go back to painting and decorating as it’s all I’ve ever done since leaving school but at the moment I just don’t know what the future holds. I still can’t fully bend or extend my arm, and that’s no good in my line of work.”
HSE inspector Sam Russell also spoke after the hearing:
“Work at height is a high risk activity and steps should have been taken to identify those risks and mitigate against them. The compnies failed in that most basic requirement.
“The principal contractor on the site should have taken steps to ensure the company they employed was competent to undertake the work asked of them and had in place suitable control measures regarding the fragile skylights.”
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