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Brent building firm in court over fall dangers

A building firm in North West London has been fined for neglecting safety after a carpenter broke his collarbone and a rib when he fell through an unprotected rooflight opening.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Brent-based Charles Henderson Construction Ltd at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (10 Dec) after finding the roof openings and the roof edges were unprotected.

The court heard the 43-year-old carpenter, from Camden, was carrying insulation material across the single-storey roof of an extension they were building when he fell through the opening. He landed on open joists on the ground floor some two and a half metres below.

The worker, who does not wish to be named, suffered concussion and a head wound as well as the fractures, and needed surgery to insert a metal plate in his shoulder. He has since been able to return to work.

HSE’s investigation into the incident, on 20 March 2014, identified that Charles Henderson Construction had failed to put suitable measures in place to prevent workers falling from height. This was attributable to the firm’s lack of managerial health and safety competence, and its failure to put into practice the findings of its risk assessment.

Charles Henderson Construction Ltd., of North Circular Road, Brent, London, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,118 in costs after admitting a breach of the Work at Height Regulations.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Stephron Baker Holmes said:

“This was a preventable incident. The risks of falling during roof work are easily understood, even from a single-storey level. The company needed to do something about these risks, but it failed to put in place the safeguards that are standard practice in the industry as well as common sense – edge protection, covers over roof openings.

“As a result, a worker suffered painful injuries and, had he landed on his head when he fell, it could have been much worse. Falls from height by workers in construction are far too commonplace and fatalities happen too often. “I am sure Charles Henderson Construction would wish to turn the clock back and take the steps needed to prevent falls, but the answer is to do this in the first place.”