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Galliford Try and Parkstone fined for safety failings

11 Dec 12 Contractors Galliford Try and Parkstone have been fined for serious safety failings after a Coventry worker suffered life-changing injuries from plummeting more than six metres through a hole in a floor.

Contract worker Ian Howells, 33, of Tile Hill, punctured his lung, broke every rib on the left side of his body, shattered all the bones in his left hand and fractured his pelvis in three places as he stepped onto what he thought was a pile of wood covered by plastic.

He was bedridden for two months and was unable to work for a year after the incident on 26 November 2010 at a fifth floor plant room undergoing construction at Edgbaston cricket ground. He is still in pain, walks with a limp and has not regained full use of his hand.

Birmingham Magistrates' Court heard yesterday (10 December) that he and a colleague were trying to move a heavy floor grinder when he stepped onto the wood. He was unaware that it was a polythene-covered pallet placed on top of scaffolding that concealed a service void. The pallet snapped and sent him crashing to the fourth floor below.

The fall was investigated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which found that Parkstone Group Ltd and Galliford Try Construction Ltd, the principal contractor for the construction project, could and should have done more to prevent it.

Neither company had properly assessed the risks or devised a safe system of work for moving the floor grinder.

HSE identified that no information had been provided to anyone working on site in relation to the risks posed by covered voids, and there was no signage affixed to the void to highlight the potential danger.

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There was also no safe access to the room where work needed to be undertaken. Workers had to access the fifth floor by pulling themselves through the void and then a gap between a scaffolding guard rail.

Parkstone Group of Stonebridge Road, Coleshill, West Midlands, and Galliford Try Construction of Cowley, Uxbridge, Middlesex, both pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

They were each fined £13,500 and ordered to pay £3,345 costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector Paul Thompson said: "This incident was entirely preventable. The system of work adopted by Galliford Try and Parkstone Group was unplanned and unsafe. Workers were not provided with a safe means by which to do their jobs, or the right equipment to help them do it.

"The hole in the floor had been covered with a polythene-covered pallet to prevent rain from getting in, but it was not obvious that it was concealing a hidden danger and individuals at work were not informed of this.

"As a result Mr Howells has suffered life-changing injuries that he will never fully recover from."

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