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CLIENT FINED FOR FAILURE TO CHECK PROJECT SAFETY PROGRESS

Contractors and client prosecuted after errors over obvious fall risks

Three companies have been fined a total of £336,000 after a worker survived a fall of over 6m through a roof light onto a concrete floor. He suffered fractures to his back and shoulder and a puncture wound to his lower back from a drill bit which was in his pocket when he fell.

Dundee Sheriff’s Court heard that on 3 October 2008 the electrician was fixing cables on the building. A cable he needed was on the roof of the building and he used a mobile platform to access the roof. As he walked across the roof he stood on a roof light and fell, hitting machinery in the building below, before landing on the concrete floor.

Crockett and Partners Ltd were contracted by Electroguard Security Systems to fit a lighting system as part of a larger project at Dundee Cold Stores Ltd in Dundee.

Risk assessment and management arrangements fall short

The HSE investigators found that:

  • The project client, Dundee Cold Stores Ltd had not sought a written risk assessment for the work by contractors and there was no method statement from either company regarding how the work was to be carried out safely;
  • Electroguard carried out a site risk assessment for working at height but this was not specific to the job at Dundee Cold Stores. The risk assessment was not known Crockett and Partners and no safe system of work was implemented to ensure risks identified were managed effectively;
  • Robert A.S. Crockett and Partners Ltd had not given Mr Carson any training or information that would have helped him identify that the roof could be fragile. 
  • Dundee Cold Stores Ltd did not carry out any safety inductions before contractors started work on the site and there were no safety meetings once the work had started to ensure that it was progressing safely.

Robert A.S. Crockett and Partners Ltd was fined £66,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Electroguard Security Systems was fined £135,000, and Dundee Cold Stores fined £135,000 after they both pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After sentencing, HSE Inspector Harry Bottesch said:

“Mr Carson has suffered significant and lasting injuries because his employer left him to work at height unsupervised and without clear instructions about what work he was expected to do and how he was to do it. Nor was there any safe system of work in place to allow him to work safely at height.

Where roof lights are present, it should be assumed that the area is fragile to walk on. If these three companies had thought about the obvious risks involved, and planned the work properly then Mr Carson’s injuries – and the impact they have had on his life ever since – could have been avoided.”

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