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January 7, 2020

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Sir Robert McAlpine fined £260k after fall from height

Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd has been sentenced for safety breaches after a worker fell 4.8 metres through an unprotected opening.

Sir Robert McAlpine fined £260k after fall from heightOn 28 April 2016, Mark Smith, aged 36, was working at Stone Gappe Hall, Lothersdale, Keighley, owned by Richard McAlpine, a director of the McAlpine group of companies. Mr Smith was attaching straps to a water tank whilst preparing to move it to a lower floor of a water tower at the property, in order to paint the floor.

The HSE found that Mr Smith fell through an opening that did not have fixed edge protection. As a result, he sustained serious injuries including: a right tibial shaft fracture, a distal fibular fracture, a fracture to the left patella, orbital and nasal fractures, lacerations to the face, a concessional head injury, injury to his ribs and he was hospitalised for nine days. Mr Smith continues to suffer from psychological damage and has been unable to return to work.

Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd of Eaton Court, Maylands Avenue, Hemel Hemstead, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £260,000 and ordered to pay £38,299 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Paul Thompson commented: “Falls from height often result in life-changing or fatal injuries. In most cases, these incidents are needless and could be prevented by properly planning of the work to ensure that effective preventative and protective measures are in place such as edge protection or barriers built to the correct standard.

“This incident could have easily been prevented if the company had undertaken a thorough risk assessment and installed adequate edge protection around the opening to prevent falls.”


Watch: Top 5 most-read in December 2019

Click here to see a summary of the Top 10 health & safety prosecutions of 2019.

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.

Barbour EHS

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