Contractors in court after leisure centre roof fall

02 December 2014

Two building contractors have been fined after a worker fractured a vertebra in his lower back after falling four metres from a roof.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation into the accident and prosecuted both contractors involved in the project.

The court heard that a contractor who had been appointed principal contractor for an installation of a new flume tower and swimming pool extension at a leisure park, appointed a further company as sub-contractors to install a new air-handling unit and associated pipe work for the swimming pool.

The injured worker, an employee of the sub-contracted company, was working on the roof of the swimming pool extension, accessible by internal stairs, connecting the various ducts and pipes with the air-handling unit.

Most of the roof was protected but a section had been left exposed, presenting a fall risk. Whilst the worker was making his way around a narrow wooden area close to the open edge, in order to collect some tools, the wood gave way and the worker fell backwards landing on concrete and rubble.

He spent five days in hospital and was unable to work for more than three months.

The principal contractor company pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than £600.

The sub-contracting company pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations and was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than £500.

Following the hearing, an HSE inspector said: “This worker is very fortunate not to have suffered far more serious injuries. Throughout the whole process of roof work, there was no adequate protection against falls, such as barriers on the open edge.

Citation says: Falls from height are responsible for around a third of workplace deaths every year, with 25 people having lost their lives in the years 2012/13. This case highlights how important it is for work at height to be properly managed with risks suitably controlled. It also highlights the necessity for all contractor organisations on site to co-operate and communicate with each other so that workers are not put at risk of harm.

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