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December 12, 2012

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Construction contractor plummeted through concealed void at Edgbaston

Two construction companies have appeared in court for safety failings after a worker suffered life-changing injuries when he fell more than six metres through a badly-covered hole in a floor at Edgbaston cricket ground.

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard Galliford Try Construction was the principal contractor for the construction of a fifth-floor plant room at Edgbaston, which hosts domestic and international cricket fixtures. Parkstone Group had been sub-contracted to carry out part of the work.

On 26 November 2010, sub-contractor Ian Howells and another worker were trying to move a heavy floor grinder, when the 33-year-old stepped on to what he thought was a pile of wood covered by plastic. He was unaware it was actually a polythene-covered pallet, which was placed on top of scaffolding that concealed a service void. The pallet snapped and he fell six metres to the floor below.

Mr Howells suffered a punctured 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. He was unable to return to work for a year owing to his injuries. He still suffers considerable pain, walks with a limp and has not regained full use of his hand.

An HSE investigation found that neither Galliford Try Construction nor Parkstone Group had carried out a risk assessment, or created a safe system of work for moving the floor grinder. No information about the risks posed by the covered void was provided for anyone working at the site, 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 guardrail.

HSE inspector Paul Thompson said: “This incident was entirely preventable. The system of work adopted by Galliford Try Construction and Parkstone Group was unplanned and unsafe. Workers were not provided with a safe means by which to do their jobs, or the right equipment to help them do it.

“The hole in the floor had been covered with a polythene-covered pallet to prevent rain from getting in, but it was not obvious that it was concealing a hidden danger and individuals at work were not informed of this.”

Parkstone Group and Galliford Try Construction appeared in court on 10 December and both pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. Each firm was fined £13,500 and ordered to pay £3345 towards costs.

SHP contacted Galliford Try Construction but the company said it did not wish to comment on the judgement.

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11 years ago

What, no mitigation offered. Most unusual?

And the hits just keep on coming.

!3.5k will hardly break a sweat will it?

11 years ago

First we had Old Trafford and the Demo boys, now we have these above at Edgbaston, who next will be bowled over I wonder?

You`d have thought the ECCB would have a known CDMC advising them would you not?

I wonder if thier box will be under treat now?

Undone by the slow ball googly no doubt?

11 years ago

Major players in the construction industry still get the basics wrong…the fines imposed do not reflect the injuries suffered.