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    Removal of floor lacked assessment and simple safe system of work

    W Cooper and Son (Plymouth) Ltd has been fined after an employee suffered multiple injuries in a fall at work in January 2012.

    Geoffrey Burt, aged 59, was dismantling a floor at the company premises in Plymouth when he fell 2.3 metres into a void sustaining several fractures to his ribs, shoulder blade and spine, as well as severe cuts to his head.

    Plymouth Magistrates’ Court heard that the company instructed the workman to examine rot on the floor of a small, disused industrial building beneath layers of vinyl and carpet.

    This revealed the void of 2.3 metres between concrete plinths which had been covered over to create the floor. The following day whilst removing the floor he plunged head first into the space below. 

    HSE investigators found that the company took some steps to prevent people approaching the void but failed to take any measures to protect employees from falls. There was no risk assessment or safe method of working for the removal of the floor.

    Simple board to cover-up opening required

    W Cooper and Son (Plymouth) Ltd of Commercial Road, Plymouth, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000.

    Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Annette Walker, said:

    “Mr Burt’s injuries have caused him a great deal of distress and pain and could easily have been avoided if his employer had simply provided a board to cover-up the hole.

    This incident was entirely foreseeable and highlights the need for employers to take their responsibilities for the safety of their workforce seriously, especially when there are known risks.

    The company should have ensured there were adequate safety measures to guard against falls and that their employees had suitable instructions and equipment for the work and were properly supervised.”


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