Plasterer left in coma for two months after refurb fall

Grant Prior 12 years ago

A plasterer was left in a coma for two months after falling off a ladder during a refurbishment job when a light fitting hit him.

MacDonald Joinery & Construction Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive following the incident at the former Rosebys store, at Teesside Retail Park, Stockton on 2 September 2008.

Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard that Carl Major, 31, of Retford, Nottinghamshire, had been stripping out fixtures and fittings when he was hit on the head by a falling lighting pelmet.

He was knocked off the step ladder he was using and fell around three metres onto a concrete floor.

Major suffered serious head injuries and was in a coma for two months. He later developed epilepsy and still requires medical treatment. He has been unable to return to work.

The HSE investigation revealed that prior to him beginning refurbishment work at the store, MacDonald Joinery & Construction had failed to provide Major with the necessary information and instruction to enable him to carry out his work safely.

Although the company had produced a risk assessment and a system of work for working at height in the store, neither were sufficient as they failed to look at how the lighting pelmet and the wall to which it was attached were constructed. As a result of this the company failed to identify the dangers its workers would face.

MacDonald Joinery & Construction Ltd, of Westthorpe Fields Business Park, Westthorpe Fields Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6228.75.

After the case, HSE Principal Inspector Rob Hirst, said: 
“Mr Major has suffered long term injuries as a result of this serious incident, yet it could have easily been prevented if suitable and sufficient safety measures had been provided.

“Reducing the number of deaths and injuries from falls from height is a key priority of the work of the HSE. This incident illustrates how important it is for construction companies to effectively manage health and safety at all levels within the business.”

Major, who is married with two children, added: ”It may sound dramatic, but this has really changed my life. I now have epilepsy so I can’t drive anymore and I’ve been told I may never be able to go back to work in my trade as a plasterer.

“I’ve also lost my sense of smell so can’t enjoy cooking as I did. The whole thing has had a real impact on my family – the stress and the financial worries have made things worse.”

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