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ASSESSMENT, TRAINING AND EQUIPMENT MISSING

Developer prosecuted over failure to manage basics safety provisions

RHP Merchants and Construction Ltd has been fined after a labourer broke his right thighbone in a fall from a roof during development work at Penarth, Wales, on 30 January 2013.

Malcolm Milne, aged 59, fell some 2.5m from a roof to the ground when a beam he was standing on gave way He spent several days in hospital, was reliant on crutches for five months and has been unable to return to construction work since. HSE told the court (11 November) that sufficient measures were not taken to prevent or mitigate a fall.

Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard how the company was CDM Principal Contractor for a mixed development project to create commercial units, flats and town houses.

Mr Milne and a colleague were removing roof tiles from a building being demolished. HSE investigators established that

  • Training the men were not trained for demolition work and Mr Milne was untrained for work at height;
  • Risk assessment – a sufficient and suitable risk assessment for the work had not been carried out; and
  • Safety equipment – suitable work equipment had been provided for working on the roof.

The court was also told that the project manager was on holiday at the time of the incident, as was a senior site engineer. So supervision and management was lacking.

Risk assessment would have identified the hazards

RHP Merchants and Construction Ltd, of Cardiff, pleaded guilty to single breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined a total of £20,000 and ordered to pay £9,414 in costs.

After the hearing HSE Inspector David Kirkpatrick said:

“Mr Milne’s injuries could have been much worse and he could even have been killed in the fall, which was entirely preventable and would not have happened had the work been better planned, managed and monitored.

A risk assessment would have identified the hazards and a proper plan of work would have mitigated the risks of any fall. The lack of site management and supervision during the week of the incident played a major part in what happened.

Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace death, but simple, cost-effective measures are available to reduce the risks. All too often these are not put in place, and yet the human cost of incidents involving work at height far outweigh the cost of ensuring a safe system of work is implemented.”

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