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 Electrician falls more than five metres

Electrician falls more than five metres

1 June 2012 Email this article

Whilst working in the loft space of a Swindon youth centre, an apprentice electrician, John O’Connor, seriously injured his back on falling through the ceiling. A specific risk assessment for the work had not been carried out, nor had they ensured that adequate steps were taken to reduce the risk of a fall.

On 14th May, the electrical and mechanical contractors stood before the Swindon Magistrates, in a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive.

The electrician was 18 years old at the time of the accident, on the 3rd February 2010. He had been carrying out electrical installation work at The Platform Youth Centre on Farringdon Road and had fallen onto an exposed plasterboard ceiling, from a narrow timber walkway. The ceiling gave way under his weight.

 Shortly after he managed to grab onto a timber joist, this also gave way, leading him to fall five and a half metres onto the floor below. This fall resulted in severe injuries of three fractures to his vertebrae and cuts and bruising, which meant that he was out of work for two months.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Damien Milbourne, said:

"Richard sustained serious injuries in the fall, but he could easily have been killed as a result of his employer's negligence.

"There was a failure by Roberts and Prowse to make a specific risk assessment for the work in the loft of the building. They also failed to ensure measures were put in place that would have prevented employees falling through the ceiling where they were working. Richard and others were left to work on and near exposed joists without suitable platforms or coverings or guardrails.

"Working at height presents clear risks, as the company should be only too aware, and it could and should have done more to protect its workforce."

Roberts and Prouse (Swindon) Ltd, of Barnfield Crescent, Exeter pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to the fall.  The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £5,156 in costs.

Further information and advice from HSE about working in the construction industry and working at height can be found in our health and safety library