Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard that on 10th May 2018, workers were carrying out work to lay cabling and ducting in loft spaces at newly built residential properties in Swanmore, Southampton without suitable or sufficient protection from falls at height. A 49-year-old electrician fell through the plasterboard loft flooring sustaining multiple fractures to his ribs, shoulders and vertebrae. He also suffered a punctured lung.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that BDW Trading (Barratt Homes/David Wilson Homes) and subcontractor Quayside Electrical Ltd had failed to prevent a fall from height. BWD Trading had created the loft space by installing the ceiling of the room below using plasterboard – top tacking – before the electricians had completed the installation of cables and ducting. This meant that work in the loft was above fragile plasterboard. Inadequate precautions were taken to prevent the electrician from falling through the plasterboard.
BDW Trading Ltd of Barratt House, Cartwright Way, Forest Business Park, Bardon Hill, Coalville, Leicestershire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £140,000, and ordered to pay costs of £3,689.15 plus a victim surcharge of £170.
Quayside Electrical Ltd of Unit 22, Mount Pleasant Industrial Estate, Southampton, Hampshire also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,521.15 plus a victim surcharge of £170.
HSE inspector Fiona Woods said after the hearing: “Falls from height remain the most common cause of work-related fatalities and serious injuries in the construction industry. The risks associated with working at height are well known. It is important that those in control of working at height take appropriate control measures to safeguard workers and others.”