Company fined after bricklayer fractures skull in fall

A construction company has been fined £12,000 after a bricklayer fractured his skull in a fall.

Worcester-based 2 Counties Construction (Midlands) was prosecuted after the incident, in which worker Scott Ife fell through an unprotected stairwell opening from the first floor on a renovation project.

The company had been hired as the principal contractor overseeing the refurbishment of agricultural barns into houses on Humber Lane, Telford, in 2020.

Ife was working alongside another employee laying the blocks to form the gable walls for a two-storey extension.

The pair set up a working platform using Youngman boards on the first floor of the property.

However, as there was an unprotected stairwell opening in the building, one end of the boards was unsupported.

While leaning over to point up the blocks in the gable walls, Ife lost his balance, falling onto the unsupported boards and through the stairwell opening.

He plummeted four-and-a-half metres onto the concrete floor below, fracturing his skull and damaging a facial nerve.

Ife was hospitalised for three days following the incident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that 2 Counties Construction was responsible for a series of failings, including a lack of suitable controls for preventing falls into the building and through the stairwell openings.

There was also inadequate planning, a lack of selection of equipment for working at height and inadequate site-management arrangements.

Pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, the company was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £4,139 in costs at Cannock Magistrates’ Court on 21 July.

HSE inspector David Brassington said it was fortunate that more serious injuries had not been sustained by the bricklayer.

“This incident could and should have been easily avoided,” he said.

“Work at height needs to be properly planned and managed to ensure that appropriate precautions are used.”

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