Rainham construction company fined after worker breaks spine in skylight fall

The worker made a full recovery from the fall but was off work for six weeks. Picture: PA

The worker made a full recovery from the fall but was off work for six weeks. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

A construction firm has been fined for safety failings after an employee broke his spine when he fell through a skylight at a building site.

The worker, who does not wish to be identified, made a full recovery following the incident on August 16, 2011, but was unable to work for six weeks.

His employer, Prestige Construction Services Ltd, of Rainham, was prosecuted on Monday by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation revealed there were inadequate measures in place to prevent the fall.

The worker was helping to construct the roof of a new-build community centre in Hampshire, Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard.

There were several holes where skylights were to be placed, but they were left exposed, with no coverings or guard rails on or around the holes, and no safety nets underneath.

The worker fell almost four metres to the floor below, with his spine taking the impact.

Magistrates were told that he was fortunate to have made such a swift recovery and sustain no lasting damage.

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Prestige Construction Services Ltd, of West Close, was fined a total of £30,000 and ordered to pay £9,000 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

After the hearing, HSE principal inspector Steve Hull, said: “You would expect a construction company to be fully aware of the risks posed by working at height and to take the appropriate safety precautions. Yet that clearly didn’t happen here, and the employee could easily have paid with his life as a result.

“The incident was entirely preventable had Prestige Construction Services put effective measures in place to prevent or mitigate a fall – as is essential at all times during roofing work.”

Further information on working safely at height can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/falls