Company fined after worker falls to death
Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
7th December 2017
A Glasgow based demolition contractor has been fined after a worker fell to their death from a mezzanine deck during a demolition project in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how, on 15 January 2015, an employee of Walker Demo Limited died 10 days after he fell while dismantling a mezzanine deck at the Fort Kinnaird Retail Park south of Edinburgh. The employee, Peter Millar, gained access onto the mezzanine level to remove wooden boards and lost his balance. There were no measures in place to prevent him falling to the ground.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the demolition activity had not been adequately planned to prevent danger as there were no measures in place to prevent access onto the mezzanine floor and no measures in place to prevent a person falling from the mezzanine deck. Walker Demo Limited of Somervell Street, Cambuslang, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £40,000.
Speaking after the hearing, inspector Gerry Muir said:
“The failure of Walker Demo Limited to properly plan the dismantling of the mezzanine deck led to an uncontrolled risk of a fall from height which was sadly realised when Mr Millar gained access to the deck and fell.” “Work at height is the single biggest cause of fatal and serious injuries in the construction industry. During demolition and dismantling, workers can be injured falling from edges, through openings, fragile surfaces and partially demolished floors. Duty holders have a responsibility to assess, eliminate and control the risks of falls from height.”
Steven Stewart, 57, was left with “life-changing” injuries after falling nearly 15ft through a hole in a floor. He was working for Technic Concrete Floors on a new cinema complex at the retail park when the incident happened. Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard he was walking across a floor under construction when his boot caught and he tripped. His foot dislodged an unsecured wooden panel covering a void in the floor and he fell 14.7ft and landed on steel mesh grids. Mr Stewart, who was subcontracted to work for the firm, sustained serious injuries to his back and a broken foot. The Lancashire-based flooring company was fined £3300 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last September after pleading guilty to contravening part of the Health and Safety Act.
The court heard that concrete was due to be poured onto the first floor of the building and the site manager, employed by main contractor Derbyshire-based Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd, identified two voids in the floor as fall hazards. They were unguarded, but had previously had barriers around them which had been removed to allow the pouring of the concrete. The site manager had asked scaffolders to “deck out” the holes to make them safe. However, the men did not have the correct materials and the safety measure was not carried out. Any fall from a roof inevitably involves at least a serious injury.
The risks are substantial, however long or short the work. Many have been killed who only meant to be on the roof for a few minutes ‘to have a quick look’ or to carry out a small repair. The HSE guidance on demolition provides further details about managing risks from working at height. http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/demolition.htm#falls