An Essex construction company has been made to pay over £7,500 after a self-employed decorator was fell into a stairwell at one of it projects after leaning on guard-rails that did not meet statutory requirements.
David Scanlon, a decorator from Dunstable, has yet to return to work after the January 2012 incident at a development in Barrington, Cambridgeshire, in which he fractured several ribs, his left arm and thumb; snapped the tendons on an index finger; cut and bruised his head; cracked two vertebrae; and suffered several collapsed discs. He was hospitalised for five days.
Cambridge Magistrates’ Court heard that Scanlon had been employed by a contractor of Hill Partnerships since October 2011 to undertake external and internal decorating at the residential building site.
He had stopped on a landing area to talk to colleagues who were going down to the ground floor and leant against a wooden guard-rail around the stairwell. It was unable to support him and collapsed, sending him crashing headfirst onto the stairs below.
HSE established that the guard-rail was poorly designed and constructed, and simply wasn’t fit for purpose. The court was told that had it been more robust the incident could have been prevented.
Hill Partnerships was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £4,501 costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
HSE Inspector Gavin Bull said: “Hill Partnerships failed to ensure the guard-rails they provided to prevent falls inside the buildings were suitable when work was being undertaken. There are well established design standards for temporary guard-rails that could have been adopted and put in place.”