London construction company fined after workers avoidable 7m fall
A construction company in Harrow has been fined after a worker suffered life-changing injuries when he fell seven metres from an unguarded roof. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted R & G Construction Ltd of Harrow as a result of the incident on 7 March 2011.
Vasile Ionel Vatca, a 28-year-old Romanian, had been working on a major refurbishment project at Eaton Mews North in Belgravia. The project included the construction of a basement, and a roof replacement. Mr Vatca was on top of the roof and had been clearing up debris left over from construction work which had been carried out on the roof.
HSE's investigation found that work on the roof had been carried out by employees and subcontractors who had previously been protected from falling off the roof by scaffolding, but this had been removed the previous month.
Although the site's fall safety equipment was used after the 7 March incident, it was deemed to be entirely inadequate, and workers remained at risk of falling from height.
Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that on the day of the incident, Mr Vatca was on the top of the roof, and the only way to get there was using a ladder which only reached to the lower part of the roof. While he was climbing down, the ladder fell away from the building, Mr Vatca lost his footing and fell about seven metres, suffering a broken leg, heel and wrist. He was hospitalised for a week and is still not working. When sentencing, the judge commented on the severity of Mr Vatca's injuries and the fact that he is now registered disabled.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said: "This was an appalling and entirely preventable incident which has severely affected a young man's life. "Companies have a duty to take steps to reduce risks and prevent falls using equipment such as guardrails and working platforms, or even nets and airbags if needs be. "If the company had properly planned and organised the work and sufficiently assessed the risks of working at height, along with the use of appropriate work equipment - the likelihood of this happening would have been much reduced." R & G Construction Ltd of College Road in Harrow pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1)(a), Regulation 5 and Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £7,515.