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CLIENT PROSECUTED AFTER PLUMBER FALSE CEILING FALL

Firm failed to oversee refurbishment to ensure work was carried out safely

Dowding and Mills UK Ltd has been prosecuted after a visiting plumber fell 3m through a fragile suspended workshop ceiling. HSE also prosecuted the employer of the injured workman following the incident on 6 August 2008. 

The plumber was installing a hot water heater at the edge of a boarded area of the roof when he fell through the fragile ceiling. He suffered injuries to his head and neck, and needed to wear a neck brace for 12 weeks.

The HSE investigation found another plumber had fallen through a ceiling at the premises two years earlier escaping injury by grabbing a ceiling board.

Client ignored own management arrangements

Dowding and Mills UK Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching HSW Act Section 3(1) for putting lives at risk after it failed to oversee the work properly. The company, of Bordesley, Birmingham, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £1,498 in prosecution costs.

Mike Wilde, trading as Mike Wilde and Co, admitted breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005 after failing to make sure the work was planned properly and carried out safely. Mr Wilde, aged 65 of Maple Crescent in Penketh, was fined £1,000 with £300 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Martin Heywood said:

“It’s disappointing this work was allowed to go ahead without suitable planning for working at height, especially as another plumber had fallen through a roof tile at the same site.

Dowding and Mills ignored its own procedures for checking the methods contractors intended to use when undertaking work. Mike Wilde should have made sure a safety barrier was erected or instructed the worker to wear a harness with a rope attached to a fixed point.

Falls from just a few metres above the ground are responsible for hundreds of workplace injuries every year. Those responsible for work activities taking place at height must make sure workers stay safe.”

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