A major house builder has been fined after a 23-year-old worker suffered multiple injuries when she fell 2.6m as a temporary handrail gave way.
Bellway Homes was forced to pay out nearly £11,000 after pleading guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations. HSE inspectors found the incident could have been avoided if the guard rail was erected and installed correctly.
The Gateshead agency worker, who does not want to be named, broke her right wrist, fractured her forehead, jaw and cheekbone, and sustained a hairline fracture to her right hip. She also severed tendons in her left hand and suffered extensive bruising to her face, neck and back.
She had to have a metal plate inserted into her right arm and required further surgery to ease later complications. She was unable to return to work as a labourer for six months and still suffers constant pain. It is unlikely she will ever return to her usual trade working as a plasterer.
North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard how HSE inspectors found the rail she leant against was a single piece of timber fixed to the protective cover of an upright post at one side and attached to a timber door frame with a single nail at the other, which was where it gave way. There was no mid-rail to provide additional support.
The worker had been clearing rubbish on the first floor of a property nearing completion at a site in Earsdon View, Shiremoor, when the incident happened on 4 December 2012. She was on the landing talking to another worker in the ground floor hallway, but as she leant on the temporary handrail it gave way, causing her to fall to the floor below.
The court was told that the company had failed to provide suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the fall, and that had a more robust handrail been in place the incident could have been avoided.
Newcastle-based Bellway Homes Limited was fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was also ordered to pay £904.70 costs.
“This incident could easily have been prevented if Bellway Homes Limited had ensured that temporary guard rails were erected and installed correctly,” said HSE inspector Emma Scott after the case.
“Instead a young worker has been left with serious injuries which are still causing her pain and may well prevent her from continuing work in her chosen trade.
“The significant dangers of death and serious injury associated with falls from height during construction work are well known and long standing in the industry, and working on a landing area without suitable safety measures in place is simply not acceptable.
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