March 17, 2017

Major construction firm fined after worker falls through hole in building

News Article

One of the largest construction firms in the UK has been fined £400,000 after a worker was injured on-site.

In recent months, Kier Construction has received fines totalling almost £2million for two separate serious health and safety breaches.

In March this year, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how construction worker, Jair Morales, was installing plywood boards covering holes on the third floor of the building when he fell a distance of almost 4 metres to the floor below.

The court heard no measures had been put in place to prevent him falling through the opening as he installed the plywood boards. Mr Morales fractured both his pelvis and arm following the fall and has been unable to work since the accident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Kier failed to ensure the work was properly planned and carried out in a safe manner and the company pleaded guilty to breaching section 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Owen Rowley said: “The risks of working at height are widely recognised throughout the construction industry. This case highlights the importance of ensuring that all work at height is properly planned and carried out safely.”

This latest breach follows an earlier health and safety prosecution involving Kier. In December 2016, Lincoln Crown Court fined Kier £1.5million for failing to protect a worker whose leg was crushed and broken in six places, when an un-shored trench collapsed at a Lincolnshire site.

Construction worker, Vincent Talbot, was trapped in the trench for 15 minutes before being rescued by the fire service and airlifted to hospital. Two sub-contractors were also handed significant fines for their failures which contributed to this incident.

Following the conclusion of this case, HSE Inspector, Martin Waring commented: “This incident was foreseeable and avoidable and Mr Talbot’s injuries were the result of multiple failings by the duty holders, from the planning stage through to the execution of the project, resulting in the inevitable collapse of an unsupported trench…. we could easily have been dealing with a fatal incident.”

Lara Murray an Associate and Health & Safety legal expert with Palmers, said: “Although a great deal has been done to improve the construction and engineering industry’s reputation of being a high risk sector, these two cases illustrate that a lack of planning and safety procedures can all too easily lead to a serious incident.

“Robust risk assessments and method statements for identified tasks as required by health and safety regulations will not only keep workers safe, but will result in less down-time as a result of untoward incidents and ultimately greater productivity.”

For further information on Palmers employment and health and safety legal support, please contact us.