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February 10, 2011

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Worker in a coma for two months following fall

A construction company has been fined after a worker suffered serious head injuries during the refurbishment of a shop in Teesside.

MacDonald Joinery and Construction Ltd was refurbishing a former Rosebys store at the Teesside Retail Park in Stockton, when the incident took place, on 2 September 2008.

Carl Major, 31, was stripping out fixtures and fittings at the store when he was hit on the head by a falling lighting pelmet. This knocked him off the stepladder he was using and he fell three metres to the concrete floor. He was in a coma for two months and later developed epilepsy. He has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries.

The company was issued a Prohibition Notice the day after the incident, which required it to ensure that all pelmets were adequately secured before work continued. HSE inspector Rob Hirst revealed that the risk assessment and method statement for the job were inadequate, as they had not considered how the pelmet was attached to the wall. He said: “Mr Major has suffered long term-injuries as a result of this serious incident, yet it could have easily been prevented if suitable and sufficient safety measures had been provided.

“Reducing the number of deaths and injuries from falls from height is a key priority of the work of the HSE. This incident illustrates how important it is for construction companies to effectively manage health and safety at all levels within the business.”

MacDonald Joinery and Construction appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on 9 February and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £6229 towards costs.

Following the hearing, Mr Major explained the serious impact the incident has had on his life. He said: ”It may sound dramatic, but this has really changed my life. I now have epilepsy so I can’t drive anymore and I’ve been told I may never be able to go back to work in my trade as a plasterer.

“I’ve also lost my sense of smell so can’t enjoy cooking as I did. The whole thing has had a real impact on my family – the stress and the financial worries have made things worse.”

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