Magistrates have fined a construction firm for breaching safety laws after a scaffolder fell seven metres onto a stairway.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard on Wednesday how 31-year-old Wimbledon man James Whelan was working for a scaffolding subcontractor employed by Bowmer & Kirkland Ltd, of Belper, Derbyshire.
He was helping to extend a Sainsbury’s supermarket in Wandsworth, London on 8 August 2013 when he was seriously injured in the work accident.
Magistrates were told that he was moving between the roof of the older part of the store to the new extension using a timber walkway, and stood on a section of plasterboard thinking it was another part of the walkway.
As he put his weight on the fragile plasterboard he fell through it and a suspended ceiling before landing on a stairway below.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Bowmer & Kirkland Ltd after an investigation found it had tried to restrict access to the walkway instead of making the walkway safer with guards and hard covers to prevent falls.
After admitting a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 the company, based at High Edge Court, Heage, Belper, was ordered to pay a fine of £6,000 and a further £1,428 towards the cost of the prosecution.
At the conclusion of the case HSE inspector Gavin Pugh said t is well known in the construction industry that falls from height make up around a half of all accidents causing death or serious injury. Fragile surfaces and unguarded edges are factors in many of these cases.
Bowmer & Kirkland Ltd and companies like it should know full well the importance of protecting workers, Mr Pugh said.
Safety standards fell short on this occasion and it could have cost Mr Whelan his life, but his injuries are still causing him pain, he said.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: March 7, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown