Construction Firm Prosecuted Over Worker Fall

HSE Investigation Finds Safety Failings Led To Plunge Through Roof


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463
A construction firm based in Cardiff has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after one of its workers suffered serious injuries when he fell through a roof.

The employee, 59-year-old Malcolm Milne, was working on the roof of a disused building in Penarth prior to its demolition in January 2013 when a beam under his feet gave way.

As a result, he plunged eight feet to the ground and was left hospitalised for several days. He spent five months on crutches and has still not been able to return to work.

The HSE investigation found Mr Milne's employers, RHP Merchants and Construction, had failed to take action to prevent or mitigate falls.

Neither the victim nor his colleagues had been trained in demolition, while Mr Milne had received no training for working at height. In addition, no risk assessment had been carried out for the job and no safety equipment was provided. The work was also not being supervised in the way required by law, as the project manager and senior site supervisor were both away on holiday.

RHP Merchants and Construction pleaded guilty in the hearing at Cardiff Magistrates' Court to one breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and another of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £20,000 with costs of £9,414.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David Kirkpatrick commented that Mr Milne might easily have been killed. He stated the incident was "entirely preventable and would not have happened had the work been better planned, managed and monitored".

"A risk assessment would have identified the hazards and a proper plan of work would have mitigated the risks of any fall. The lack of site management and supervision during the week of the incident played a major part in what happened," he added.

HSE figures for 2013-14 revealed 19 people died as a result of falls from height in the workplace.

Expert Opinion
The dangers of working at height are well known and the HSE has developed clear rules and regulations which firms requiring employees to carry out these tasks to comply with. In our experience we have seen a number of cases where workers are being seriously injured or killed as a result of falling from height.

“Employers have a duty to ensure any work carried out on their behalf is done so with the appropriate health and safety measures in place. In this incident, a risk assessment relating to the task was not carried out and supervision of the work was not deemed suitable. It is vital employers within the construction industry, which is one of the most dangerous sectors in the UK, take this prosecution on board and ensure they comply with the latest health and safety regulations in a bid to prevent similar incidents in the future.”
Stephen Nye, Partner