Fine for builder after broken back fall

A Cheshire building firm has been fined £10,000 after a plasterer broke his back when he fell three metres during the construction of a six-bedroom house.

CB Homes Ltd, which was the main contractor for the development in Little Budworth, was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive after an investigation found the company had failed to make sure adequate guard rails were in place on the first floor landing to prevent falls.

Trafford Magistrates' Court heard on Friday that the 58-year-old from Wrexham, who has asked not to be named, had been fitting plasterboard when he fell from the open landing on 22 May 2013. He suffered two cracked vertebrae along with damage to his spine, hips and legs.

The court was told CB Homes had been managing a project to build seven new homes at Mondrem Green on Chester Road. The company had hired a plastering firm to plaster the inside of the houses but failed to make sure this work could be carried out safely.

The plasterer had needed to use a ladder to reach the first floor, and there was no guard rail in place along the open edge on the landing. He was carrying a piece of plasterboard when he lost his footing and fell to the ground floor below.

CB Homes Ltd, of High Street in Tarporley, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,376 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Laura Moran said: "A plasterer suffered serious injuries in the fall which could, and should, have been prevented.

"As the principal contractor on the site, CB Homes was responsible for making sure work at height could be carried out safely. If the company had planned and supervised the work properly then it could have made sure guard rails were in place.

"Companies who take on big construction projects have a legal duty to make sure the tradesmen they bring onto the site can do their job safely. CB Homes fell well below that legal requirement on this occasion."

Carl Hitchenson, construction director at CB Homes, said: "We are very sorry for what has happened. This was a one-off incident and the first accident in 35 years of trading in a traditionally high risk industry. However, 48 hours before the accident there was a hand rail in place but this had been stolen. A replacement had just been delivered and was being offloaded at the time of the accident.

"We have updated our training practices with all site managers and staff to make sure this is at the forefront of their minds."

Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace deaths in the construction industry.

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