Construction company Rivergate Developments Ltd was sentenced today for safety breaches after worker Nathan Howes fell 2.7 metres through an open stairwell.
Leeds Magistrates’ court heard how, on 31 May 2017, Mr Howes, aged 26, was working on the upper floor of a cricket club in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire which was under refurbishment. Mr Howes was removing a ‘genie lift’ from the forks of a lift truck, so that steel beams could be lifted into place, when he stepped backwards and fell through the stairwell opening. Mr Howes sustained multiple injuries including a fractured spine, a fractured skull and a small collapse of one of his lungs, and was hospitalised for six days. Mr Howes still attends physiotherapy as outpatient and has not yet been able to return to work.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Rivergate Developments Ltd had carried out a risk assessment which identified there would be gaps in the floor through which a person could fall. However, they failed to put in place any measures to either prevent or mitigate the consequences of a fall. Such measures include the use of fixed edge protection systems to prevent falls or the use of fall arrest bags to mitigate falls.
Rivergate Developments Ltd of Rivergate House, Carrhill Road, Mossley, Lancashire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £1,020 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Jayne Towey commented: “Falls from height often result in life-changing or fatal injuries. In most cases, these incidents are needless and could be prevented by properly planning the work to ensure that effective preventative and protective measures are in place such as edge protection or barriers built to the correct standard.
“This incident could have easily been prevented if the company had installed adequate edge protection around the opening to prevent falls.”
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk
- More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/
- HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk
- Please see the link below to the page on HSE’s website that is the best guide to doing it the right way: www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/workingatheight.htm