Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

November 13, 2014

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Worker’s 8ft fall lands principal contractor in court

RHP Merchants and Construction Ltd has been fined £20,000 for safety failings after a labourer broke his right thighbone in a fall from a roof during development work at Beach Cliff, Penarth.

Malcolm Milne, 59, from Caldicot, fell approximately 8ft from a single storey roof to the ground when a beam he was standing on gave way on 30 January 2013. He spent several days in hospital, was reliant on crutches for five months and has been unable to return to construction work since.

The incident was investigated by HSE, which prosecuted his employer for failing to provide sufficient measures to prevent or mitigate a fall.

Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard on 11 November that RHP was the principal contractor for a mixed development project to create commercial units, flats and town houses.

Mr Milne and a colleague were working on a disused lodge building that was being demolished to make way for the new buildings, and were removing roof tiles at the time of the fall.

HSE’s investigation established that:

  • neither Mr Milne or his co-worker had any training for the demolition work;
  • Mr Milne was untrained for working at height;
  • RHP had not carried out any risk assessment for the work;
  • no safety equipment had been provided for working on the roof; and
  • the project manager and senior site engineer were on holiday at the time of the incident.

RHP Merchants and Construction Ltd, of Newport Road, Castleton, Cardiff, pleaded guilty to single breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined a total of £20,000 and ordered to pay £9,414 in costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector David Kirkpatrick said: “Mr Milne’s injuries could have been much worse and he could even have been killed in the fall, which was entirely preventable and would not have happened had the work been better planned, managed and monitored.

“A risk assessment would have identified the hazards and a proper plan of work would have mitigated the risks of any fall. The lack of site management and supervision during the week of the incident played a major part in what happened.

“Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace death, but simple, cost effective measures are available to reduce the risks. All too often these are not put in place, and yet the human cost of incidents involving work at height far outweigh the cost of ensuring a safe system of work is implemented.”

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