Two Laing O'Rourke companies have been fined a total of £125,000 after a worker was seriously injured when he fell 21 metres from a hospital building under construction in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Laing O’Rourke Construction and Expanded Structures were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) on 20 October 2006.
It has been a difficult week for Laing O'Rourke, which earlier announced a sharp fall in its revenue for the last financial year, and thousands of job losses.
Steven McColgan, 37, from Edinburgh, was working on the construction of the adult block of the RVI at the time. Newcastle Crown Court heard that part of an unsupported working platform broke away when he stood on it, causing him to fall 21 metres to the ground.
McColgan suffered serious multiple injuries to his head and body in the fall and his injuries continue to be life-changing.
The HSE investigation revealed that sections of the falsework, acting as a temporary structure supporting the working platform, were removed before work on the concrete slab was complete.
Both companies, which are based at Bridge Place, Anchor Boulevard, Admiral’s Place, Crossways in Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Laing O’Rourke Construction was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £13,756 and Expanded Structures was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,154.
After the case, HSE inspector Victoria Wise said: “Laing O’Rourke Construction and Expanded Structures failed in their duty of care to McColgan, who was lucky to survive the fall.
“Falls from height are the single biggest cause of work-related deaths in Great Britain. It is imperative that such a high risk activity is subject to a high degree of overall management and control.
“In the last three years there were 142 work-related fatalities resulting from a fall from height. It is tragic that McColgan’s injuries could so easily have been avoided if those in a position of responsibility had effectively discharged their duties”.
“Laing O’Rourke Construction had a duty as principal contractor to ensure that safe systems of work were in place and were being implemented on their site. The company had received previous advice from HSE on this specific matter, at another Newcastle site only two years earlier.
“Specialist contractor Expanded Structures had a duty to ensure that the risks associated with their work had been adequately assessed and that day to day controls and systems of work were effective.”