Three companies have been fined after a contractor to BBC Studioworks Ltd fell more than 10 metres at Elstree Film Studios. Harrow Crown Court heard how Eric Ihoeghinlan, an employee of Gabem Management Ltd, fell through a lighting grid hatch while recovering electrical cables for BBC Studioworks Ltd during a de-rigging operation on 18 November 2014.
He sustained multiple injuries including a blood clot to the brain, pelvis and ankle fractures and a ruptured spleen. Due to the brain damage he may never work again. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the lighting grid hatches had no edge protection. BBC Studioworks Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than £6,000. Elstree Film Studios Ltd was found guilty of breaching Section 3 of Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 11 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 in relation to Studio 7. The company was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than £39,000. Elstree Light and Power Ltd was found guilty of breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than £39,000.
HSE Principal inspector Graham Tompkins said:
“The employee’s injuries were life-changing and he could have easily been killed. This serious incident and the devastation caused could have been avoided if basic safeguards had been put in place. Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known”.
This is a terrible incident and the contractor has stained life changing injuries. Current accident statistics show that falls are a significant cause of injuries to workers in the entertainment industry. The situation may be worse as a significant part of workforce is casual or freelance. HSE guidance is very clear. Avoid working at height where possible. Use safety equipment or other measures to prevent falls where work at height cannot be avoided. Where the risk of a fall cannot be eliminated, use suitable equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall.