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Fall from stepladder puts man in a coma for two months and results in a hefty fine for employer.

Fall from stepladder puts man in a coma for two months and results in a hefty fine for employer.

17 February 2011 Email this article

A Sheffield construction company has today been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries while working on the refurbishment of a Teesside store.

MacDonald Joinery & Construction Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at the former Rosebys store, at Teesside Retail Park, Stockton on 2 September 2008.

Teesside Magistrates' Court heard that Carl Major, 31, of Retford, Nottinghamshire, had been stripping out fixtures and fittings when he was hit on the head by a falling lighting pelmet. He was knocked off the step ladder he was using and fell around three metres onto a concrete floor.

Mr Major suffered serious head injuries and was in a coma for two months. He later developed epilepsy and still requires medical treatment. He has been unable to return to work.

The HSE investigation revealed that prior to him beginning refurbishment work at the store, MacDonald Joinery & Construction had failed to provide Mr Major with the necessary information and instruction to enable him to carry out his work safely.

Although the company had produced a risk assessment and a system of work for working at height in the store, neither were sufficient as they failed to look at how the lighting pelmet and the wall to which it was attached were constructed. As a result of this the company failed to identify the dangers its workers would face.

MacDonald Joinery & Construction Ltd, of Westthorpe Fields Business Park, Westthorpe Fields Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6228.75 at Teesside Magistrates' Court today (9 Feb 2011)

After the case, HSE Principal Inspector Rob Hirst, said:

"Mr Major has suffered long term injuries as a result of this serious incident, yet it could have easily been prevented if suitable and sufficient safety measures had been provided.

"Reducing the number of deaths and injuries from falls from height is a key priority of the work of the HSE. This incident illustrates how important it is for construction companies to effectively manage health and safety at all levels within the business."

Mr Major, who is married with two children, added:

"It may sound dramatic, but this has really changed my life. I now have epilepsy so I can't drive anymore and I've been told I may never be able to go back to work in my trade as a plasterer.

"I've also lost my sense of smell so can't enjoy cooking as I did. The whole thing has had a real impact on my family - the stress and the financial worries have made things worse."

Falls from height are the biggest cause of fatal and major injuries in the construction and maintenance industry. During the three year period up to the end of 2010, there were 132 fatalities in relation to falls from height - 85 in the construction industry alone, two of which were in the North East.

Ladder and Stepladder Training 

For further information about working at height log onto the website at www.hse.gov.uk/falls