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July 28, 2011

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Construction firm was aware of fall risk

A labourer fell three metres down a temporary stairwell during the construction of a residential property after a colleague had removed the guardrail.

David Tourish, 38, was working for Walker Group (Scotland) Ltd on the site of a new -build house in Ravelston Dykes, Edinburgh, when the incident took place on 21 November 2009.

A temporary staircase with half landings had been erected inside the house while it was being built. Between one of the landings and the wall there was a gap, which was protected by a guardrail up until two days before the incident, when the barrier was removed by a joiner so he could fix plasterboard to the wall.

On the day of the incident, Mr Tourish was helping a colleague carry a number of doors up the stairs. As they did so, Mr Tourish stepped off the edge of the half landing and through the gap, falling nearly three metres to the landing below. He suffered two broken ribs and a bruised kidney, and he was unable to return to work for three months owing to his injuries.

HSE inspector Alistair Brown explained that the accident was completely avoidable, as Walker Group had failed to identify the risks at the site. He said: “This incident highlights the risk posed by unplanned work at height, particularly on small domestic sites, where the right equipment needs to be chosen to address risks posed by design features like staircases.

“Had Walker Group carried out a proper risk assessment, it would have identified the unusual design feature of the staircase and ensured it remained a safe working area throughout the build process.

“The company knew a guardrail had been removed, leaving a gap on the stairs. It was clear this wasn’t safe and action should have been taken to ensure the gap was closed, or protected to eliminate the risk of a fall.”

Walker Group appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 27 July and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £8000. No costs are awarded in Scotland.

Nobody from Walker Group was available to comment when SHP tried to contact the firm.

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12 years ago

I thought Manual Handling was assessed by TILE, they seem to have missed the environment which posed a risk of falling or tripping whilst humping doors up stairs.

I bet they were hard wood doors (L) given the size of Mr Walker`s house.

£8,000, he saved more than that by getting his own firm to build his house.

God bless british justice