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FALL ARREST SYSTEM UNUSED AND UNSUITABLE

Preventable fall through metal decking caused multiple injuries

HACS Construction Ltd has admitted safety failings which resulted in a workman suffering a fractured skull and eight broken ribs in a 4m fall from height.

The 50 year-old was using a saw to cut through steel sheets of a mezzanine floor when he became “unbalanced” and fell through the opening in the metal floor to the concrete floor below on 7 August 2012 at a factory unit near Leeds.

Leeds Magistrates heard (5 Nov) the firm was contracted to lower the mezzanine floor. The injured worker and a colleague were working on removing steel sheeting by “working in sections” and dropping metal to the floor below.

HSE investigators found no precautions in place to prevent falls from the mezzanine level during the work. Safety harnesses provided to the two workers were unsuitable and neither man had been trained in how to use them.

The company had considered the use of a ‘crash deck’ – a safe working platform – at the outset of the work. However, a decision was made not to proceed as it would save time.

Failings concerned assessment, equipment and training 

HACS Construction Ltd of Ripley, Harrogate, was fined a total of £16,000 and ordered to pay £7,847 towards costs after admitting two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Andy Denison said:

“It is shocking that some construction firms – which are well aware of the high levels of death and injury in their sector as well as the risks involved – are still not fully considering the safety of site workers.

There were many failings by HACS Construction Ltd that HSE discovered. They had not properly assessed the risks of the job; they didn’t provide the correct equipment to allow it to be done safely; adequate training was not given to the two men; there was no supervision, and they failed to take suitable precautions to prevent a fall.

There should be no compromises on worker safety, and HSE will continue to take robust action against firms and individuals who fall so far below expected standards.”

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