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March 23, 2010

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Two builders fall from unsuitable work platform

A builder has been fined after two of his employees fell into an empty stairwell when a temporary work platform collapsed.

Salisbury Magistrates’ Court heard that Malcolm Foyle had been contracted to carry out renovations at a residential property in Tilshead, Salisbury, when the incident took place on 15 August 2008.

The stairs inside the property had been removed, and a temporary platform had been built over the gap. In order to create the platform, two scaffold planks were rested on top of a piece of wood, and screwed into a partition wall at one end and another wall at the other end.

One of Foyle’s employees began working on the platform, but the screws holding the planks in place gave way when a second worker joined him. Both men fell through the stairwell and landed on the ground floor, with one suffering multiple fractures and the other escaping with minor injuries.

Malcolm Foyle appeared in court on 22 March and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. He was fined £2000 and ordered to pay costs of £1000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector, Andrew Kingscott, said: “Falls from height remain the largest cause of fatal and serious injuries in the construction industry. These two workers could have been much more seriously injured than they were.

“All employers need to know that they have a duty to protect their employees. If you are responsible for a project – as Mr Foyle was in this case – then you must ensure that you plan the work properly, take into account all the probable risks, and manage them correctly.

“Incidents like this are easily prevented if the correct measures are taken to make sure that employees are not put at risk.”

In mitigation, Mr Foyle told the court he had no previous safety convictions and regretted the incident. He entered an early guilty plea and fully cooperated with the HSE’s investigation.

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