Building Company Sanctioned After Employee Falls Through Floor

| General


In late December 2022, the Westminster Magistrates Court and the Health and Safety Executive imposed a financial sanction on a building business after its admission to criminal charges of neglecting to discharge its duty to reduce the likelihood of serious injuries from being sustained by the workforce. 

What Happened In The Case?

The case centered around a London-based building project and specifically involved the building of the first floor of a building. During the project, the defendant operated a crane to lift numerous pallets of blocks onto an incomplete concrete beam and block floor. On the site, at the time three persons were employed by the defendant construction company. However, matters escalated when the floor collapsed fracturing the leg and wrist of a member of the workforce.     

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

When the Health and Safety Executive examined the circumstances surrounding the incident it discovered that the defendant had not implemented any measures to mitigate the risk of accidents involving members of the workforce from falling from heights. If this was not serious enough, when the regulator delved into it further it found that the defendant had neglected its duty to introduce, utilize and maintain a system allowing the provision of a safe working environment for members of the workforce. The case was so serious that the regulator commented on the circumstances surrounding the case by saying that this event was preventable by putting in position the procedures to appropriately control the working activities being carried out.       

Feet to the Fire?

When the business was confronted by the allegations in the Magistrates Court at Westminster around Christmas week of 2022 it seemingly felt like it had no conceivable alternative but to openly admit health and safety violations under Regulation 13 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. On the evidence, it was discovered that the defendant had failed in their duty to put in any measures to reduce the likelihood of a person falling from height. This was not the end of the matter for the building business as it appeared to have overlooked the need to maintain a safe working system for the activities being carried out for the role. The Magistrates Court hearing the case in Westminster appears to have been determined to make an example of the Defendant building contractor. It wanted to send out a message of deterrence to the wider public when it decided to hand down sanctions in the form of a financial penalty in the amount of more than sixty thousand pounds. To further underline how seriously the criminal courts are taking such violations of health and safety regulations it handed down a costs order in the amount of just shy of two thousand pounds.    

Lessons Learned? 

All businesses employing staff and with responsibility for the management of affected buildings need to be taking steps to reduce the chances of future events.    

The Health and Safety Executive further commented that for similar businesses to avoid similar enforcement action by it they need to raise their game, and provide real leadership in adhering to the expectations set by law and enforced by the regulator. In this regard, such businesses should be upholding their legal duties to

  • Plan
  • Manage and 
  • Oversee 
  • The construction of buildings and

do so in a manner that puts the health and safety of the workforce at the forefront of their minds. This will ensure that the likelihood of incidents of this nature taking place is reduced and there is a lower probability of the Regulator becoming involved and investigating such matters        

ASSESSING FIRMS

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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES 

[SOURCE 1] Regulation 13 – The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 - The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (legislation.gov.uk)

[SOURCE 2] Health and Safety Executive – Building Firm fined after worker hurt falling through the collapsed floor – 22nd December 2022 - Building firm fined after worker hurt falling through collapsed floor | HSE Media Centre

[SOURCE 3] Construction Index – Contractor fined after floor collapse - 3rd January 2023 - Contractor fined after floor collapse (theconstructionindex.co.uk)

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