Wirral firm fined after worker paralysed in fall

The Health & Safety Executive reminded construction companies of their duties to employees after a worker was paralysed in a fall.

Harold Roach fell ten feet through roof joists at a refurbishment site on Gertrude Street in Birkenhead while he was working for Property People (NW) Ltd.

The company, which is based at Stanhope House, Mark Rake, Bromborough, Wirral, was fined £92,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £11,404 at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday 20 July after pleading guilty to two health and safety offences.

Property People admitted contravening Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. It also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 by failing to report the injury to HSE.

The court heard that the incident happened on 23 April 2005 while joists were being removed from the ceiling of an archway, and that Property People had failed to provide a safe platform for its employees to use. Roach suffered serious injuries to his back from the fall, resulting in permanent paralysis.

HSE Inspector Ian Betley said: "The injuries Mr Roach sustained were extremely serious and he will need to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

"Working at height remains the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of major injury. It should be managed by implementing and enforcing suitable and sufficient control measures.

"Companies are required by health and safety legislation to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of employees and others that may be affected by their work. In this case, a suitable platform should have been used to remove the joints from below, rather than from above. Had such steps been taken, this incident could have been avoided.

"The tragic outcome of this incident, and the subsequent fine, must act as a reminder that the results can be serious for businesses that fail to comply with the legislation."

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