Poole Contractor In Court Over Falling Steel

Two Workers In Poole Were Injured After A Length Of Steel Struck Them

11.08.2014

Two workers were left with broken bones after a length of steel fell from nine floors above them, a court has heard.

Ryan Smith, 31, and colleague Paul Martret, 42, were working at a renovation project operated by Harbourview Developments at a housing conversion in Bournemouth when the accident took place.

East Dorset Magistrates' Court was told that the two were carrying out their duties on a temporary platform when a large piece of steel fell the equivalent of nine floors and struck them.

The pair were rushed to hospital where Mr Smith was diagnosed with a damaged vertebrae, which forced him to wear a brace for several months.
Mr Martret, was less seriously hurt and escaped with a fractured elbow.

After being informed of the accident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation and found that Harbourview Developments' working practices were not in line with national regulations.

Inspectors found that a subcontractor placed a five kg steel panel on a structural beam running parallel to the temporary platform Mr Smith and Mr Martret were standing on.

As the man moved to step over the object, he accidentally knocked it with his leg, sending it plunging down to the ground.

For its part in the accident, Harbourview Developments - based in ArenaBusinessPark in Poole – was fined the token amount of £1 after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulation 8(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. 

Companies normally face larger fines for this kind of accident, but the firm is now in liquidation and does not have the money to pay a higher fee.

Speaking after the trial, HSE inspector Ian Whittles said: "Mr Smith and Mr Martret sustained painful injuries, but could both have been killed by the falling metal, which struck them from height, at speed and without warning. 

"Harbourview Developments failed to ensure that the refurbishment activity was carried out without presenting a danger. The incident was clearly preventable by using a combination of boarding and debris netting to create a safer working platform where materials or objects couldn’t fall through."

Expert Opinion
This shocking case is yet another example of poor health and safety measures in place at construction sites. The industry is one of the most dangerous to work in and it is vital employers take their responsibility for keeping workers and contractors safe at all times seriously. Both of the men involved in this incident suffered serious injuries, which resulted in time off work, and could have been a lot worse.

“It is crucial lessons are learned from this incident and employers ensure the correct equipment and training is made available to staff members and contractors working on the premises. We have seen the devastating effects serious injuries as a result of falling objects on construction sites can have on workers, with many cases of people suffering life-changing injuries. It is imperative that those involved in such incidents are provided with the care and support they need to recover and rehabilitate.”
Stephen Nye, Partner