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Wed December 08 2021

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Contractor fined £20k after 8ft fall

13 Nov 14 A Cardiff building firm must pay out nearly £30,000 in fines and costs after an employee broke his thighbone in a fall.

Scene of the crime
Scene of the crime

Malcolm Milne, aged 59 and from Caldicot, fell approximately 8ft from a single storey roof to the ground when a beam he was standing on gave way at Beach Cliff, Penarth, on 30th January 2013. He spent several days in hospital, was reliant on crutches for five months and has been unable to return to construction work since.

The incident was investigated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted his employer, RHP Merchants & Construction Ltd, for failing to provide sufficient measures to prevent or mitigate a fall.

Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard that RHP was the principal contractor for a mixed development project to create commercial units, flats and town houses. Mr Milne and a colleague were working on a disused lodge building that was being demolished to make way for the new buildings. They were removing roof tiles at the time of the fall.

HSE’s investigation established that neither Mr Milne nor his co-worker had any training for the demolition work, and that Mr Milne was also untrained for working at height.

Inspectors found that RHP had not carried out any risk assessment for the work and no safety equipment had been provided for working on the roof.

The court was also told that the project manager was on holiday at the time of the incident, as was a senior site engineer, so there was a lack of supervision.

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RHP Merchants & Construction Ltd, of Newport Road, Castleton, Cardiff, pleaded guilty to single breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined a total of £20,000 and ordered to pay £9,414 in costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector David Kirkpatrick said: “Mr Milne’s injuries could have been much worse and he could even have been killed in the fall, which was entirely preventable and would not have happened had the work been better planned, managed and monitored.

“A risk assessment would have identified the hazards and a proper plan of work would have mitigated the risks of any fall. The lack of site management and supervision during the week of the incident played a major part in what happened.

“Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace death, but simple, cost effective measures are available to reduce the risks. All too often these are not put in place, and yet the human cost of incidents involving work at height far outweigh the cost of ensuring a safe system of work is implemented.”

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