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MAJOR CONTRACTOR AND PARTNER IN COURT TOGETHER

Fall through poorly protected opening leaves worker with life-changing injuries 

Galliford Try Construction Limited and Parkstone Group Limited have been fined for safety failings after a construction worker fell more than six metres through a floor opening causing a punctured his lung and multiple fractures.

Ian Howells, aged 33, was bedridden for two months and unable to work for a year after the incident in November 2010 at a plant room undergoing construction at Edgbaston cricket ground. 

Birmingham Magistrates heard (11 December) that he and a colleague were moving a heavy floor grinder when he stepped on a pile of wood. He was unaware it was a polythene covered pallet placed on top of scaffolding that concealed a service void. The pallet snapped and sent him crashing to the fourth floor below.

HSE investigators found that:

  • the risks had not been assesed and a safe system of work devised for moving the floor grinder; 
  • information was not provided in relation to the risks posed by covered voids; and
  • there was no signage affixed to the void to highlight the potential danger.

Access to the room where work needed to be undertaken was unsafe with staff being required to “pull themselves up” through the void and through a gap between a scaffolding guard rail.

Hidden danger was not obvious

Parkstone Group Limited, of Stonebridge Road, Coleshill, West Midlands, and Galliford Try Construction, of Cowley, Uxbridge, Middlesex, both pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The companies were each fined £13,500 and ordered to pay £3,345 costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector Paul Thompson said:

“This incident was entirely preventable. The system of work adopted by Galliford Try and Parkstone Group was unplanned and unsafe. Workers were not provided with a safe means by which to do their jobs, or the right equipment to help them do it.

The hole in the floor had been covered with a polythene-covered pallet to prevent rain from getting in, but it was not obvious that it was concealing a hidden danger and individuals at work were not informed of this.

As a result Mr Howells has suffered life-changing injuries that he will never fully recover from.”

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