A scaffolder fell through a fragile surface breaking his ribs, bruising a lung and fracturing his spine and pelvis in the process.
The accident happened on 8th August 2013 at a Sainsbury’s branch in London which was being extended.
31 year-old James Whelan from Wimbledon fell through plasterboard which he had presumed was the same material as the timber walkway he was using to get from the roof space of the old store to the area of the new extension.
The Health and Safety Executive established that Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd should have done more to prevent their Scaffolding Subcontractor falling seven metres at the supermarket in Wandsworth. Mr Whelan sustained serious injuries falling through the plasterboard and suspended ceiling, landing on a stairway underneath the roof space.
The Derbyshire building company, which operates across the UK, did restrict access to the walkway. However they should have done more to prevent the Building Site Accident by either putting hard covers on fragile areas or ensuring the walkway was properly guarded.
Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005. They were fined £6,000 and had to pay £1,428 in costs.
After the hearing Health and Safety Executive Inspector Gavin Pugh said, “The hazards presented by fragile surfaces and open edges are clear, and it is common knowledge that falls from height account for almost half of all deaths and serious injuries on building sites. As such, companies like Bowmer & Kirkland should be fully aware of what needs to be done to adequately protect workers.
“The safety standards surrounding the walkway and fragile area fell some way short on this occasion, and it could have cost the scaffolder his life. He suffered painful injuries that still cause him pain and discomfort, but he could just as easily have been killed.”
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