Soft landing bags were in wrong place to break worker’s fall
A worker suffered multiple bone fractures when he fell from a canopy at a school in Shropshire.
RG Stones (Buildings) Ltd was contracted to replace a canopy between two temporary classroom buildings at Lakelands School, in Ellesmere.
On 8 August 2011, William Phillips was standing on the canopy with two colleagues. They were replacing the existing canopy with a polycarbonate version. Most of the original canopy panels had been removed, and the workers were standing on three of the remaining panels.
Mr Phillips accidently stepped off one of the sheets and fell three metres between the timber, and landed on the concrete floor. He suffered fractures to his back, breastbone, six ribs and his right wrist. He has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries.
The HSE’s investigation found that no edge protection had been installed to prevent a fall. The company had placed two soft landing bags on the floor, but neither was positioned in the area where the work was being carried out. The three workers had also not been trained in how to use soft landing systems.
HSE inspector Guy Dale said: “This incident was entirely preventable. The company had obviously appreciated the risks of a fall, as shown by the provision of the landing bags, but it’s a shame they didn’t think to put them under the area where they were most needed.
“Work at height is a high-risk activity and needs to be properly planned. Had that happened, a man would not have been left with debilitating injuries.”
RG Stones appeared at Shrewsbury Magistrates’ Court on 10 August and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £6500 and ordered to pay £3105 in costs.
In mitigation, the company said it completed the work after installing a crash deck. It has also sent workers on a training course for soft landing systems. It had no previous convictions and entered an early guilty plea.
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