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WORKMAN SURVIVED 10M FALL INTO OPEN SHAFT

Developer admits failing to secure safety on new apartments project

Brighton Construction Ltd has admitting failing to prevent injury at a new develoment in November 2009 where a workman nearly died after falling 10m down an open lift shaft on a block of flats.

The workman was delivering a kitchen unit to Ocean Heights, Roedean Road, Brighton. He was walking backwards carrying the unit up the stairs with a colleague holding the other end when he stepped over a roll of insulation which had been left on the second floor landing

He fell backwards into the lift shaft fracturing his spine, pelvis and rupturing a ‘main vein’ in the fall. He was admitted to intensive care for six days and treated at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, for a month.

Guard-rail had been removed for three days

Lewes Crown Court heard that a guardrail had been in place around the shaft opening to prevent people falling into the shaft. However, it had been removed for three days while engineers carried out work on the shaft.  Chris Hopkins, defending, said the guard rails had been replaced “every time they were seen to be missing”. 

HSE Investigating Inspector Amanda Huff said:

 “As principal contractor the company was responsible for the safety of everyone on the site, including suppliers. In this case simple precautions could have prevented this accident. It would have been easy to put guardrails across the lift shaft. Mr Homewood has suffered life-changing injuries because measures were not taken to ensure that the lift shaft was guarded at all times.”

The court was told that the two largest flats were sold for a total of £1.2 million but the company has since had to re-finance and now has just £50,000 left in its accounts. Judge Richard Hayward therefore adjourned sentence until March 3 for a financial investigation to take place.

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