Building Firm Fined Over Worker Fall

Construction Company Prosecuted After Joiner Plunges Through Ceiling


A Manchester-based construction firm has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over an incident in which one of its staff fell through a weak ceiling and suffered serious injuries as a result.

Paul Moran, who hails from Stretford, was working on a loft conversion job in nearby Chorlton in May 2013 when he suffered the fall. Although he did not plunge to the floor below - instead becoming wedged around the hip - he sustained serious internal bruising and a hand injury that continues to give him constant pins and needles.

The HSE investigated how his employer Quaintbrook Properties had gone about preparing for the job and discovered it had been planning to have partition walls fitted before the floorboards were installed in the two neighbouring properties.
This meant the joiners, including Mr Moran, were instructed to use boards as temporary flooring, but when they arrived, there was no suitable material present, with some unsuitable wet plywood being left outside.

As an alternative, they used some old loft boards and moved them from one section of the floor to another. However, Mr Moran slipped when using one of these, causing the accident.

Quaintbrook Properties acknowledged the shortcomings of its provision of equipment in the hearing at Trafford Magistrates' Court, where the company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The firm was fined £5,000 with costs of £5,518.

Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Laura Moran said: "The joiner was badly injured in the incident, but it could easily have been much worse if he had fallen all the way into the room below. Quaintbrook Properties was responsible for his safety, but it failed to take this responsibility seriously."

She added that the firm had not provided its staff with health and safety information, or carried out an adequate risk assessment. Ms Moran also noted that the sort of temporary flooring that should have been installed before work began was belatedly put in place after the incident.

Expert Opinion
Falls from height are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries, particularly in the construction sector, which is one of the most dangerous industries in the UK. All too often we see the devastating impact accidents at work can have on employees and it is vital employers take responsibility for ensure the health and safety of their staff and contractors at work.

“In this case Mr Moran suffered serious injuries and still suffers the effects of his accident. We hope that the successful Health and Safety Executive prosecution will act as a warning to other companies to take their duty to protect staff and contractors seriously.”
Stephen Nye, Partner