The owner of a building firm has appeared in court after two of his employees suffered injuries at work while dismantling a mezzanine floor.
George Simms, a partner in Simco Services of Leeds, brought in the two men to dismantle the mezzanine in a Cross Green warehouse which was being vacated.
The accident at work was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive, which prosecuted Simms for a breach of the Work at Height Regulations.
Leeds Magistrates’ Court was told the two workers were injured, one seriously, when they fell from the floor they were dismantling on July 15 last year.
A 61-year-old man from Seacroft, broke two vertebrae and was hospitalised for five days. He has been unable to continue working in the construction industry because of impaired lifting and carrying abilities.
The second victim, an 18-year-old man from Halton, suffered concussion but made a full recovery.
Handrails were removed
The court was told Simms gave inadequate thought to planning the work. Existing handrails, intended to prevent falls from the mezzanine, were removed. As the work went on, it is thought one of the boards broke and the two men fell to the concrete floor below.
A Health and Safety Executive official said Simms had not considered how the work should be undertaken and this led to the two men working at height with no safeguards in place to prevent them falling.
The employees were repeatedly required to work close to the open edges, often while carrying materials and tools, making chances of a fall more likely.
The investigation was unable to identify exactly how the two workers fell together, but it was probable that a board broke, causing it to slip.
The ad-hoc nature of the work ultimately led to the serious risks faced by the men and caused them to slip and fall, the court heard.
Accused admitted breach of regulation
Simms, of Ramshead Drive, Seacroft, Leeds, was fined £2,000 with £3,210 costs after admitting a breach of Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After the hearing, Inspector Martin Hutton said work taking place at height is the single biggest cause of fatal incidents in the workplace and proper planning is vital to ensure it can be carried out safely.
That includes choosing the most suitable equipment and making sure work is properly supervised, he added.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: September 21, 2013
Author: David Brown