A principal contractor has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an engineer lost half his bloodstream when he fell almost three metres from an extension ladder.

The worker was testing a sprinkler system for leaks at a site in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire when the incident happened on 5 September 2016. He climbed onto an internal roof and was inspecting the leak from an extension ladder. The ladder slipped and he fell between the internal roof and the external wall. He suffered severe blood loss, amounting to around half of his bloodstream. He required a blood transfusion and needed 14 stitches to his head. He also sustained a fractured vertebra and suffered soft tissue damage.

HSE investigators discovered that the principal contractor for the job, had failed to take reasonably practicable measures to prevent a fall from the internal roof for both the engineer and other contractors working on the roof.

Luton Crown Court was told that the company had failed to discharge its duty to ensure those not in their employment were not exposed to risks, in particular that of falling from height.

Following a five-week trial, the London-based company – which had a turnover of £96 million in 2018 – was last week fined £1.1 million plus costs of £68,000 after it was found guilty of breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. 

Speaking after the sentencing, HSE inspector John Berezansky said the case highlights the importance of taking reasonably practicable measures when planning and managing the risks regarding work at height within the construction industry.

‘The engineer’s injuries were life-changing and he could have easily been killed,’ he added. ‘This serious incident and devastation could have been avoided if basic safety measures had been put in place.’


 

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