Firm fined after fall despite unproven link to contravention
Farrans (Construction) Ltd has been fined after a lift engineer was severely injured when he fell into a lift shaft on a Cambridge hospital construction project in 2012.
Terry Moore, 51, suffered fractures to his left foot, shoulder, lower spine and pelvis, and was unable to work for several months as a result of the incident at Addenbrookes Hospital.
HSE investigators found that guard-rails placed across the entrance to the lift shaft did not meet the statutory height requirement.
Cambridge Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Moore, an experienced lift engineer, was working on the uppermost floor of a new three-storey annex under construction, and was preparing the lift shaft ahead of a lift installation.
He was about to bring up further equipment from a floor below when he fell into the lift shaft and plunged some 9m and was discovered at the bottom of the shaft.
HSE investigators found that the guard-rails placed across the entrance to the upper floor shaft were 908mm high and did not meet a long-standing regulatory requirement requiring the top guard rail to be at least 950mm above the edge from which a person is liable to fall.
The Court was told that although it could not be proven that the height discrepancy was a causative factor in the fall, it was a “serious safety failing”.
Well-known industry standard
Farrans (Construction) Ltd, of Kingsway, Dunmurry, Belfast, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £5,225 costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector John Berezansky, said:
“Farrans (Construction) failed to implement a well-known industry standard regarding the height of the barriers across the lift shaft entrance.
This standard has been in place for a considerable number of years, and it clearly states that the top guard rail must be at least 950mm above the edge from which any person is liable to fall. That is an absolute requirement and the onus is on employers to ensure this standard is met at all times.
Construction work is a high-risk activity where falls account for a large proportion of all deaths and serious injuries. The end result here is that Mr Moore, an experienced engineer, sustained horrific injuries and could easily have been killed.”