Southwark Crown Court heard how the tenant was injured when, walking to her flat, she fell 5.5 metres through a fragile cement sheet to the balcony walkway below. She fractured her pelvis in five places.
The balcony walkway was the tenant’s sole access to and from her flat and, although construction workers had been working on it for the previous four days, the tenant had not been informed of the work; neither were there physical barriers in place to prevent her from stepping into the balcony walkway.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident, which occurred on 19th June 2015, found that Engie Regeneration (Apollo) Limited (previously known as Keepmoat Regeneration (Apollo) Limited) was undertaking refurbishment works at the Du Cane Estate in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, including replacement of top floor balcony walkways throughout the estate.
Engie Regeneration (Apollo) Limited appointed Superior Roofing & Building Services Ltd to replace the balconies and it started this work in June 2014. In August 2014, it came to both companies’ attention that the balcony replacement work involved exposing, and then working around, a fragile surface, when operatives partially fell through the cement soffit within the balcony. It was only after the incident in 2015 that the companies put steps in place to protect workers and members of the public from falling from height.
Engie Regeneration (Apollo) Limited was found to have failed to plan, manage, monitor, and coordinate the balcony refurbishment works to ensure the work was carried out without putting workers and the public at risk.
The HSE also found that Superior Roofing & Building Services had failed to ensure the balcony replacement works were properly planned.
Engie Regeneration (Apollo) Limited, of Benton Lane, Newcastle upon Tyne, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. It was fined £800,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,518.54.
Superior Roofing & Building Services Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,693.94.
HSE Inspector Sharon Boyd said after the case: “This incident could easily have been avoided if the companies had ensured that workers and members of the public were protected. Companies should be aware that they are at risk of being prosecuted by the HSE if they do not do what is reasonable to protect people.”