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Air bags removed too soon

15 Jun 12 A Leicester construction company has been fined for safety failings after a 19-year-old apprentice was hurt falling from a roof.

Apprentice joiner Jonathan Hill was working on a housing development in Croft Road, Cosby, fitting wooden batons between roof trusses when he slipped and fell around two and a half metres, landing on first floor boarding.

Mr Hill, of Broughton Astley, suffered a fractured vertebra in the incident on 9 November 2011 and was off work for two months.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive found that principal contractor Stokes Evans Developments Ltd had installed fall mitigation in the form of air bags on the first floor when the roof trusses were initially installed a week before the incident. However, they were removed before the trusses and supporting batons were fully fixed in place and no alternative safety measures were put in place

The company, of St Peter’s Road, Arnesby, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for not doing enough to prevent the fall. Leicester magistrates today fined the firm £500 and ordered it to pay costs of £850.

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After the hearing HSE Inspector Tony Mitchell said: "This incident could have been prevented simply by leaving the air bags in place until the work was complete, rather than removing them and putting them back in storage.

"Installing roofs is a high risk activity and builders should not become complacent about ensuring that fall protection, in whatever form, is provided throughout the work.

"Although the immediate cause of this incident was the lack of fall protection, there is also an underlying cause - Stokes Evans Developments Ltd failed to adequately monitor and control work in line with risk assessments and method statements."

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