News - Construction News

Resident injured during refurbishment

The HSE has successfully prosecuted a Cornish construction company and its director following an incident at a refurbishment project.

During refurbishment works, a resident was seriously injured after falling through a plastic panel installed on his balcony. The resident, 58-year old Simon Powell, who has impaired mobility and suffers from epilepsy, was sitting on the balcony at his property when he fell more than three metres through the plastic panel and onto the beach below. Mr Powell suffered multiple fractures and damage to his liver.

ChristalClearProperties Ltd had been working on the refurbishment of the neighbouring riverside property which included changes to that property’s balcony, these changes required the balcony to be extended and join that of Mr Powell’s. Sheets of plywood and plastic had been used to temporarily infill the completed balcony framework prior to the toughened safety glass infills being fitted.

Following the injury, a HSE investigation found that in the absence of safety glazing, the fall prevention measures were inadequate, also no measures had been put in place to prevent access to the balcony until the construction work had been completed. The investigation also found there was no construction phase plan in place and no specific risk assessment for the use of plywood or plastic as an interim measure. The plastic sheeting that had been used was an unsuitable material as it did not afford Mr Powell any impact protection.

The company was fined fined £22,000 with costs of £4,782.72, with Director Anthony John was given a 12 week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs of £4782.72.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Georgina Speake said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities/injuries in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.”

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