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Manchester man falls through ceiling during loft conversion

1 Sep 14 Tyrone Dobbs is not the only resident of Greater Manchester to have fallen through a ceiling during a loft conversion recently, it has emerged.

In a case with similarities to an ongoing Coronation Street storyline, a Manchester construction firm was in court last week on safety charges after a joiner fell through a ceiling.

Patrick Moran, 48 from Stretford, was badly injured in the incident, which happened on 21st May 2013. He had been working on a loft conversion in Chorlton for Quaintbrook Properties Ltd.

The company was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found he had been asked to help install partition walls without any floorboards in place.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday (29th August 2014) that Quaintbrook had been hired to carry out loft conversions at two neighbouring properties on York Road. The firm had installed new floor joists but wanted the partition walls to be fitted before the floorboards, so they could be easily lifted up in the future.

The job sheet instructed the two joiners to use boards on the site as temporary flooring but when they arrived they could only find three pieces of wet plywood outside, which were unusable. They therefore had to use some old loft boards to create temporary walkways and kept moving them to reach different areas of the loft.

As the joiners were installing the wooden frame for a partition wall, one of them slipped and his leg went between the floor joists and through the plasterboard ceiling up to his hip.

He managed to pull himself up onto the joints but suffered severe internal bruising and continues to suffer from pins and needles to his left hand, caused by possible nerve damage.

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Quaintbrook Properties Ltd, of Oswald Road in Chorlton, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £5,518 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Laura Moran said: “The joiner was badly injured in the incident but it could easily have been much worse if he had fallen all the way into the room below. Quaintbrook Properties was responsible for his safety but it failed to take this responsibility seriously.

“The company did not give its employees any information about health and safety, or carry out a proper assessment of the risks ahead of the work starting. As well as the missing floorboards, there was also a large opening for the new staircase without any markings or protective measures around it.

“Following the incident, the company arranged for temporary flooring to be installed across the whole area. If this had been in place at the time of the incident then the joiner’s injuries could have been avoided.”

In the Coronation Street storyline, a local building firm tried to cut costs on a job by using thin boards for flooring the loft of Wetherfield resident Tyrone Dobbs. When Tyrone fell of a step-ladder he came crashing through the ceiling into the bedroom below (pictured below) and needed hospital treatment.

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