Decorator falls through dodgy guard rail

Grant Prior 12 years ago
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A Reading contractor has been prosecuted after a decorator was hospitalised for three weeks after falling through a substandard guard rail at a housing development.

Phillip Williams, 63, from Reading, fractured his hip, broke five ribs, chipped a bone in his spine and was left with internal bleeding and clotting around his lungs as a result of the fall last summer.

Reading Magistrates’ Court heard  that he had been subcontracted to work at the property by main contractor W Pocock and Sons Limited.

Williams was walking towards a first floor light-well to talk to workers on the ground floor. As he leant in against a wooden guard rail it gave way and he fell approximately 2.6 metres to the ground floor below.

He was hospitalised for three weeks as a result of his injuries, and needed three months of recuperation before gradually returning to work.

The Health and Safety Executive found the guard rail in the light well had been removed and replaced prior to the incident in order to pass materials from the ground floor to the first.

This seemingly caused the fixings to deteriorate, therefore making the guard rail inadequate to prevent a person from falling – a direct failing on behalf of the contractor.

W Pocock and Sons, of New Lane Hill, Tilehurst, pleaded guilty to a safety breach and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,706 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector James Powell, said: “Mr Williams sustained serious injuries as a result of his fall, which could easily have been avoided had the guard rail been adequately secured to ensure that it could not be displaced.

“It simply wasn’t up to the job, possibly as a result of the rail being removed and replaced on more than one occasion, and the subsequent deterioration this caused to the quality of the fitting.

“A thorough inspection of the guard rail after re-installation would have identified any weakness and could have saved Mr Williams a great deal of trauma. It underlines the need to routinely inspect fall protection equipment used for work at height.”

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