Contractor sentenced over bricklayer fall

A building firm has been fined £13,500 after a bricklayer broke his back when he fell through exposed floor joists at a site in Widnes.

The 40-year-old man from Southport, who asked not to be named, was working on a project to refurbish a corner shop and construct four one-bedroom flats when he fell three metres from the first floor to the ground floor.

The Health & Safety Executive prosecuted the principal contractor for the project, Frank Rogers (Building Contractor) Ltd, following an investigation into the incident at Albert Road in Widnes on 3 May 2011.

Warrington Magistrates' Court heard there was no internal staircase in the building, so workers had to climb up a ladder or through a window opening from scaffolding to access the first floor.

The bricklayer tripped as he stepped from the window onto a trestle on the floor, and fell between the exposed joists. He suffered a brief loss of consciousness and a broken back.
Frank Rogers (Building Contractors) Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to make sure that sufficient measures were in place to prevent workers being injured in a fall.

The company, of Lark Hill Lane in Liverpool, was fined £13,500 and ordered to pay £7,509 in prosecution costs on 13 June 2012.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Dr Tom Baldwin said: "Luckily the bricklayer has made a good recovery, but a fall of that distance could have resulted in him suffering permanent injuries or even being killed.
"Frank Rogers (Building Contractors) Ltd didn't consider the risks of workers being injured in a fall ahead of the work starting and, as a result, no measures were put in place to prevent falls.
"If the company had taken simple safety measures, such as covering the joists with wooden boards, then lives would not have been put at risk."

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