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MAJOR CONTRACTOR MONITORING FOUND WANTING

Firms fined after worker paralysed by fall through roof opening

Wates Construction Ltd and Tego Roofing Ltd have been prosecuted after a workman was left paralysed from the waist down caused by a 4m fall through a waterproof membrane into an unguarded opening on a major Swindon development in August 2011.

Swindon Magistrates heard that Giovanni Mastrodomenico was carrying out metalwork prior to the installation of a vent on the roof of the new apartment block. He fell through the opening where the vent was to be placed.

HSE investigators found that scaffolding beneath the opening was removed and that scaffold boards placed over the opening were in turn removed to allow workmen to lay the waterproof membrane. There was therefore nothing in place to prevent or mitigate the fall.

The court was also told:

  • RAMS – were unsuitable and insufficient (failed to refer to the installation for the vent);
  • Confusion – surrounded who was the site supervisor when the incident occurred and,
  • Lack of action – manager observed persons near opening but did take action.

HSE established that Tego Roofing failed to provide adequate supervision or instruction to its employees and Wates Construction failed to plan, manage and monitor the work and did not ensure there was a risk assessment in place.

All contractors must have proper plans in place

Tego Roofing Ltd, of Chalgrove, Oxford, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £9,460 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Wates Construction Ltd, of Leatherhead, Surrey, was fined £18,000 with costs of £11,127 after also pleading guilty to a separate breach of the same regulations.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Keiron Jones, said:

“Mr Mastrodomenico’s life and that of his family have been completely changed by the management failings on the site. Apart from the pain and suffering he has gone through, his employment opportunities are now restricted and he will never be able to walk again.

Construction companies and their contractors must have proper plans in place to allow their employees to complete the job safely.

As principal contractor, Wates failed to plan, manage and monitor the work, and ensure there was a risk assessment in place. Tego also failed in their duty to provide a risk assessment, ensure there was adequate supervision on-site and make sure there was a safe system of work for the installation of the vent.

Falls from height are the biggest killer in the construction industry and last year alone more than 6,300 employees suffered major injuries following a fall. Working at height must always be properly planned.”

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