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CHURCH CLIENT SHOWN NO MERCY AFTER SERIOUS INCIDENT

Prosecution follows fall which leaves self-employed joiner paralysed 

Holy Trinity Brompton parish council in London has been prosecuted following the fall of a self-employed joiner who was was paralysed when he fell from a church balcony in March 2010. The 3m fall was from an inadequately guarded balcony during refurbishment work at the site.

The council has three churches under its auspices and work began in 2009 to install an adjustable floor and hand rail so the area could be used in a stepped church seating style or a flat raised position for seminar use.

A high barrier was erected around the balcony to guard against falls from height. However, the barrier was removed after claims it interfered with movement of materials around the site. A lower rail was installed which was 20cms above the level of the floor when adjusted to its raised position. A higher temporary barrier was to be erected whenever work was due at this raised higher level. However, during work to install the new handrail the higher barrier was not in place. 

In falling the joiner suffered fractures to his back, ribs and shoulder. He is now paralysed from the waist down.

Incident had life-changing consequences for workman

The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Holy Trinity Brompton with St Paul Onslow Square (HTB) admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The church council was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £4,457.60.

After the hearing, Inspector Peter Collingwood said:

“This incident has had life-changing consequences for this man – and yet it could have been easily prevented.

Simple higher edge protection that had been in place earlier in the project had been removed and a temporary extra barrier for use when the new floor was in raised position was not put in place.

This incident shows how important it is for companies to ensure that effective edge protection exists to guard against any potential falls from height.”

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