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Wed October 28 2020

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Fit-out firm fined £28,000 after 17-year-old loses spleen

10 Sep 10 A Croydon fit-out contractor has been fined after a young worker suffered multiple fractures and internal injuries when he fell through a roof-light only weeks into his job.

A Croydon fit-out contractor has been fined after a young worker suffered multiple fractures and internal injuries when he fell through a roof-light only weeks into his job.

Lewis Edwards, 17, from Sidcup, had only been at STP Solutions a few weeks when the incident happened and it was his first job since leaving school.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that his employers told him to go onto a warehouse roof and clean out the guttering at the Argent Centre in Hayes, Middlesex, in May 2009.

City of London Magistrates heard that this was an unsafe way to carry out the work and that Edwards was left alone and unsupervised to do the job.

Edwards was crossing the roof when he stepped through a roof light and fell seven metres onto the floor of the empty warehouse.

He suffered multiple fractures to his pelvis, a number of vertebrae, his collar bone, upper left arm, elbow and left wrist. His spleen was ruptured and had to be removed in emergency surgery.

The court also heard that Edwards used to be a very good footballer having played for West Ham United juniors. He had started to take coaching qualifications, but his injuries have had a limiting effect on his life and he is still receiving medical treatment.

STP Solutions pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety etc. Act (1974), Regulation 3(1) (a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

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The company was fined £28,500 and ordered to pay costs of £9,359.

HSE inspector Clare Hawkes said: "There is no reason why this job could not have been carried out safely if the company had planned and supervised it properly. The horrendous injuries suffered by this young man could have been avoided if the safety risks had been managed and a safe method of work put in place.

"Young, inexperienced workers cannot be expected to be aware of risks or have knowledge of safety controls. It's the employer's responsibility to put in place measures to ensure their employees' safety at work."

"The dangers of working at height are well known and there's a wealth of free guidance available on how to work safely at height."

Lewis's mother, Sara Edwards, said: "16 months since Lewis's horrific accident, he still bears the physical and mental scars that have had a tragic effect on his life, and the pressures of this have torn our family apart.

"His accident was directly due to the lack of supervision, training and safety management of his employers.

"He should never have been placed in such a vulnerable position and he will now have to carry this with him for the rest of his life."

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