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Construction companies fined over worker’s six-metre fall

Posted in: Employer Negligence Workplace Injuries 

Two construction companies have been fined for serious safety failings after a Coventry worker suffered life-changing injuries when he plummeted more than six metres through a badly-covered hole in a floor.

Contract worker Ian Howells punctured his lung, broke every rib on the left hand side of his body, shattered all the bones in his left hand and fractured his pelvis in three places as he stepped onto what he thought was a pile of wood covered by plastic.

He was bedridden for two months and was unable to work for a year after the incident at a fifth floor plant room undergoing construction at Edgbaston cricket ground. He still suffers considerable pain, walks with a limp and has not regained full use of his hand.

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that he and a colleague were trying to move a heavy floor grinder when he stepped onto the wood. He was unaware it was a polythene covered pallet placed on top of scaffolding that concealed a service void. The pallet snapped and sent him crashing to the fourth floor below.

The fall was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which found that the companies involved could and should have done more to prevent it:

  • Neither company had properly assessed the risks or devised a safe system of work for moving the floor grinder.
  • No information had been provided to anyone working on site in relation to the risks posed by covered voids, and there was no signage affixed to the void to highlight the potential danger.
  • There was also no safe access to the room where work needed to be undertaken. Workers had to access the fifth floor by pulling themselves through the void and then a gap between a scaffolding guard rail.

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