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CLIENT-PRINCIPAL CONTRACTOR FINED OVER FALL

Opening in recently installed decking was left unprotected

Westfield Shoppingtowns Ltd have been fined after a worker suffered a fractured shoulder in a fall during construction of a roof extension at the White City shopping mall in London on 20th December 2013.

Westminster Magistrates heard (10 March) that the company was client and principal contractor for a project involving construction of a two-storey roof extension to an existing retail store.

Brett Mason, aged 39, was part of a team hired to relocate five air handling units. In preparation for the Christmas break he and a colleague walked the work area to ensure all materials were safely secured and not liable to be blown from the roof in high winds.

The men entered an area where installation of the mesh flooring had been completed and where large sections of duct were stored. Two  duct sections were not secure and the men proceeded to secure them firmly. Mr Mason stepped back and fell through an unprotected 8m x 1m gap in the plant deck to the roof deck 2m below causing a dislocated and fractured right shoulder. He was unable to work for six months.

HSE found the fall could have been avoided if edge protection been placed around the gap.

One of a number of planned gaps in the plant deck

Westfield Shoppingtowns Ltd, of London, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,247 in costs after admitting a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Loraine Charles said:

“The hole through which Mr Mason fell was one of a number of planned gaps in the plant deck mesh flooring.

Westfield Shoppingtowns Ltd was well aware of the potential for the creation of risks of fall from height. As the principal contractor, it should have ensured that steps were taken to mitigate those risks whenever and wherever they arose.

It was under a duty to ensure that the installation of the plant deck flooring was planned to make certain that intended gaps were provided with suitable edge protection at the earliest opportunity.

This painful injury to Mr Mason, the after-effects of which still continue to have an impact on his daily life, could and should have been prevented.

Falls from height is the biggest cause of fatalities in the workplace, and the second biggest cause of serious injuries.”

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