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CDM COMPETENCE OF SUB-CONTRACTOR NOT CHECKED BY PC

Principal contractor and partner contractor both prosecuted over rooflight fall

A building company and a decorating firm have been fined after a workman suffered multiple injuries when he  fell over 7m through a rooflight on 11 January 2012.

Philip Brown, aged 36,  was painting the roof on an industrial unit in Kettering when he stepped on to the fragile skylight which failed causing him to fall to the concrete floor below. He broke several bones, including his leg, hip, pelvis, wrist and elbow and sustained head injuries and lacerations to his face. He is now at home and bed-bound while his leg is in traction.

Corby Magistrates heard (31 October) that:

  • K.J. Smith & Sons Painters & Decorators Ltd failed to properly assess the risks involved in the work and did not devise a safe system of work. There were no rooflight covers, safety nets, or a fall arrest system used to prevent a fall or injury;
  • JBN Builders Limited made “very little effort” to ensure the sub-contracting firm was competent or to monitor the work being undertaken; and
  • Both companies dangerously underestimated the fragile rooflight risk in this instance.

Mr Brown said: “This has turned my life upside down. All of a sudden everyday things that you take for granted can’t be done any more. The doctors originally said it would be six to eight months before I was better but I’m still in traction ten months on. I’ve got an operation coming up to break my leg so they can extend the bone and I’ve been told it might be another 12 months before it heals to an extent that I can begin to get my life back.”

Principal contractor should have taken steps to ensure competence

K.J. Smith & Sons Painters & Decorators Limited, of Poundley Close, Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 4(1)(a) and 9(2)(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £4,500 and ordered to pay £1,932 costs.

JBN Builders Limited, of Hardlands Road, Duston, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc act 1974. The firm was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £1, 932 costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector Sam Russell said:

“Work at height is a high risk activity and steps should have been taken to identify those risks and mitigate against them. K.J. Smith & Sons Painters & Decorators Limited failed in that most basic requirement.

JBN Builders Limited, acting as principal contractor on the site, should have taken steps to ensure the company they employed was competent to undertake the work asked of them and had in place suitable control measures regarding the fragile skylights.

As a result of failings by both firms, Mr Brown’s life has changed irrevocably. He remains bedbound more than ten months after the incident and is unable to fully participate in family life with his partner and five children.”

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