Journalist, SHP Online

July 27, 2015

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Construction firms to pay £435k after worker falls to his death

IMAGE - Construction firms to pay £435k after worker falls to his death -  Clearly-see-gap-in-canopy -A national construction firm and a glazing contractor have been sentenced after pleading guilty to safety breaches after a worker fell to his death from a store front in Exeter.

Philip Evans was working for specialist construction company London Fenestration Trades Ltd, which was contracted by principal contractor, Sir Robert McAlpine to undertake remedial repair works to a glass façade above an entrance to a department store in Princess Hay, Exeter on 9 November 2011.

While a colleague worked on a higher part of the curtain wall from a mobile working platform, Mr Evans worked from the glass canopy to attach the lower fixings. During the course of this work, he walked along the canopy from right to left and fell through an opening above the Bedford Street entrance of the Debenhams store.

Mr Evans, from Penarth, South Glamorgan fell approximately 4.5 metres through the canopy on to the granite setts below. He received serious injuries as a result of the fall and died later in hospital.

During the HSE prosecution, Exeter Crown Court heard that:

  • the opening in the canopy had been created during previous maintenance works when a pane of glass was removed and had not been replaced;
  • the mobile platform provided was inadequate for the work being carried out;
  • the glass canopy on which Mr Evans was working was not a safe working platform as there was no edge protection and there was the large opening through which he subsequently fell; and
  • neither of the two workers should have left the safety of the working platform basket.

Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd of Yorkshire House, Grosvenor Crescent, London pleaded guilty to breaching section 3 (1) of HSWA 1974. It was fined £200,000 with £17,790 costs.

London Fenestration Trades Ltd of Clare Road, Grangetown, Cardiff pleaded guilty section 2 (1) HSWA 1974. However, as the firm is in liquidation the court could only notionally fine it £200,000 with £17,790 costs.

HSE inspector Jonathan Harris said: “The risks associated with work at height are very well known and recognised in readily available guidance. Planning and effective coordination between contractors is a requirement of the relevant safety regulations. Without such planning and sufficient assessment of risk, it is foreseeable that working at height will expose operatives to risks to their safety.

“In this case Mr Evans was working from an unsafe position which exposed him to the potential of falling from the edge of the glass canopy as well as the opening through which he tragically fell.”

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