17 December 2012
Fall from height may result in damages award
Life-changing injuries sustained during an accident at work may lead to a man launching a compensation claim.
Ian Howells was bedridden for two months after suffering multiple injuries when he fell a distance of more than six metres while operating as a contract worker on a construction project at Edgbaston cricket ground, Birmingham, in November 2010.
The 33-year-old fractured his pelvis in three places, broke all the ribs on his left hand side, shattered every bone in his left hand and punctured his lung when he dropped through a badly covered hole in a floor on the fifth storey of the venue.
At the time of the incident, Mr Howells was attempting to move a heavy floor grinder with a colleague when he stepped onto what he presumed was a pile of wood covered by plastic, but was in actual fact a pallet placed on top of scaffolding and covered with polythene sheeting.
The wood snapped under his body weight and the professional was subsequently unable to work for a year afterwards due to the extent of his injuries. Mr Howells has still not regained full use of his hand, walks with a limp and suffers considerable pain.
Following the accident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that neither principal contractor Galliford Try Construction or the Parkstone Group had not done enough to prevent his fall because they failed to give professionals at the site a safe system of work.
During a subsequent case heard at Birmingham Magistrates' Court, both firms admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, meaning Mr Howells could be eligible for damages.
Paul Thompson, inspector at the HSE, said the incident had been "entirely preventable".
"Workers were not provided with a safe means by which to do their jobs, or the right equipment to help them do it," he added.
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Posted by Chris Stevenson