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DOUBLE FALL IN DISMANTLING OF MEZZANINE FLOOR

Unsafe method of work was poorly-planned and presented ‘abundant risks’

The owner of a Leeds building firm has been prosecuted after two workers were injured when they fell during the dismantling of a mezzanine floor in July 2012.

One workman fractured two vertebrae and has been unable to continue working in the construction industry because of impaired lifting and carrying abilities. The second man suffered concussion and has since made a full recovery.

The mezzanine was located in a warehouse being purchased by George Simms (partner in Simco Services) who engaged the two men to dismantle the floor.

Leeds Magistrates heard (18 Sept) that Mr Simms gave inadequate thought to planning the work, and existing handrails, intended to prevent falls from the mezzanine, were removed. 

HSE told the court that Mr Simms had not considered how the work should be undertaken. The men worked at height with no safeguards in place to prevent them falling and were repeatedly working close to open edges.

The investigation was unable to identify exactly how the two workers fell but it is believed a “board broke” causing it to slip. HSE said it was the ad-hoc nature of the work which ultimately led to the serious risks faced by the men.

Lasting spinal injuries and could easily have died 

George Simms, of Ramshead Drive, Seacroft, Leeds, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £3,210 in costs after admitting a breach of Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, Inspector Martin Hutton said:

“The two men who fell from height could easily have been killed. While one has been lucky enough to make a good recovery, the other suffered lasting spinal injuries which meant he had to give up work.

As far as Mr Simms goes, his only method of work was an unsafe, poorly-planned one, presenting abundant risks to workers of falling off or through the mezzanine.

Work at height is the single biggest cause of fatal incidents in the workplace and proper planning is vital to ensure it can be carried out safely. That includes choosing the most suitable equipment and making sure work is properly supervised.”

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