A Walsall-based firm has been fined by a Magistrates Court and ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs after one of its workers suffered serious injuries in a fall at work.
Mr Stephen Bassford, 58, had worked for Data Contracts Specialist Maintenance Ltd for a period of 18 years when the accident occurred in July 2012. At the time of the accident he was working on the maintenance of a former Shepherd Special School, boarding up broken rooflights and making repairs to a canopy that protected the school playground. As Mr Bassford was working it started to rain heavily and he therefore decided to pack up his tools and stop work for a period. However, he slipped on the wet roof, slid down the incline and smashed through the perspex canopy of the playground cover, falling eleven feet to the concrete floor below. This resulted in Mr Bassford sustaining a fractured pelvis, a wrenched shoulder and gashes to his face and left elbow. He was unable to work as a result of these injuries for a period of four months after the accident. It is not currently known whether Mr Bassford has done or will claim personal injury against the company.
The Health and Safety Executive were notified of the accident and investigated. This investigation found that Mr Bassford had not been given sufficient training – he had not been trained to work at height for his entire career at the company, no measures had been put in place to prevent or mitigate against a fall and no steps had been taken to prevent Mr Bassford from working near the clearly fragile surface of the roof. The investigation therefore recommended that a prosecution of the company take place.
The case came to the Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on 18 September 2013. The company pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (Regulations 4(1) and 6(3)) and was fined £11,000 and ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs of £9,732.
HSE Inspector France Bailey stated after the hearing: “The dangers of working at height and near fragile materials are well known, yet incidents of this kind occur all too often. This fall could have easily been prevented if Data Contracts Specialist Maintenance Ltd had properly assessed the risks and put simple measures in place to minimise them. The implementation of an appropriate plan would also have ensured that anyone undertaking the work was properly supervised and protected.”
Marc Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Companies have an obligation under various aspects of health and safety legislation to train their workers properly, especially if they’re working in a hazardous environment. The company in this instance failed to do so and therefore was found liable for breaching the Work at Height Regulations.”