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Builder breaks back in fall from work platform

A building contractor and roofing specialist have been fined after an employee fell five metres from a first-floor extension breaking several vertebrae in his lower back.

Liverpool Magistrates Court heard that on 11 June 2018, Grayton Building Contractors Ltd was undertaking a first-floor extension to a residential bungalow in Aughton. 

An employee was fitting fascia boards and soffits to allow roofers employed by Thomas Dean, who had arrived on site a week early, to commence work.

While stepping across a gap in the incomplete working platform to descend from the roof, the ladder, which was not tied, slipped sideways, causing him to fall. As a result of his injuries he was unable to work for eight weeks.   

An HSE  investigation found that both Grayton Building Contractors Ltd and the roofing contractor Thomas Dean failed to properly plan the work, to assess the risks and to provide appropriate supervision.  Subsequently the work at height equipment selected was not suitable and the work was not carried out safely. 

Grayton Building Contractors Ltd of Southport pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,742

Thomas Dean of Merseyside also pleaded guilty and was fined £400 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andy McGrory said: “The risks from working at height are well known. Those in control of the work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working, which should include ensuring the use of suitable work equipment and adequate supervision.

“The incident could have easily been prevented with simple precautions including properly planning the work, undertaking a suitable risk assessment and by selecting, erecting and using suitable work at height equipment for the job.”

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