Construction firms fined after woman seriously injured
Two construction firms have been fined after a tenant suffered serious injuries when she fell through a fragile surface.
Southwark Crown Court was told that the tenant was injured when, in the process of gaining access to her flat, she fell 5.5m through a fragile cement sheet to the balcony walkway below.
She suffered serious injuries, with her pelvis fracturing in five places.
The balcony walkway was the tenant’s sole access to and from her flat and, although construction workers had been working on it for the previous four days, the tenant had not been informed of the work or of any associated risks; neither were there physical barriers in place to prevent her from stepping into the balcony walkway. The incident occurred on 19 June 2015.
The HSE’s investigation found that Engie Regeneration (Apollo) Limited (previously known as Keepmoat Regeneration (Apollo) Limited) were undertaking a programme of remedial refurbishment works at the Du Cane Estate in Hammersmith and Fulham, following an extensive refurbishment project some years earlier, and that the top floor balcony walkways throughout the estate needed to be replaced as part of these works.
Engie Regeneration (Apollo) Limited appointed Superior Roofing and Building Services Ltd to undertake the refurbishment of the balconies and they started this work in June 2014. In August 2014, it came to both companies’ attention that the balcony replacement work involved exposing, and then working around, a fragile surface, when operatives partially fell through the cement soffit within the balcony.
It was only after the incident in 2015 that the companies put sufficient steps in place to protect workers and members of the public from falling from height.
Engie Regeneration (Apollo) Limited were found to have failed to plan, manage, monitor, and coordinate the balcony refurbishment works to ensure the work was carried out without risks to the health and safety of their operatives or members of the public.
Additionally, the HSE investigation found that Superior Roofing and Building Services Ltd failed to ensure the balcony replacement works were properly planned, and that they failed to select suitable and sufficient control measures to prevent operatives or members of the public falling from height during the works.
Engie Regeneration (Apollo) Limited, of Benton Lane, Newcastle upon Tyne, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £800,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,518.54.
Superior Roofing and Building Services Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and has been fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,693.94.
Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Sharon Boyd said: “This incident could easily have been avoided if the companies had ensured that workers and members of the public were protected. Companies should be aware that they are at risk of being prosecuted by the HSE if they do not do what is reasonable to protect people.”
Barbour download: Guide to working at height
Work at any height can cause injury; a fall from a height of just one or two steps can cause serious injury.
The Regulations were amended in 2007 to extend their application to those who work at height providing instruction or leadership to one or more people engaged in caving or climbing by way of sport, recreation, team building or similar activities in Great Britain.
Download your free guide from Barbour to understand: Duties of persons in control of work at height; Duties of persons undertaking work at height; General controls when working at height; Method statement for work at height; Selection of a means of access; Working platforms; Guardrails and toeboards; Ladders Mobile work platforms; Suspended access equipment; Personal suspension equipment and, Inspection of fall arrest equipment.