Labourer fractures skull in stairwell plunge

Grant Prior 6 months ago
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Two construction companies have been fined £46,000 in total after a labourer from Runcorn fractured his skull falling down a stairwell.

An HSE evidence photo of the accident scene
An HSE evidence photo of the accident scene

The victim had been working on a new build house when he fell through a stairwell on 3 March 2021.

He was working for Total Brickwork (UK) Ltd at a construction site run by Challenger Building Services Ltd in Runcorn. The two companies had been working on the construction of four new semi-detached and five terraced houses at the site.

The 46-year-old, who was 43 at the time, was on the first floor in one of the new terraced properties after being instructed by the director of Total Brickwork to clear up debris and mortar that had been left behind by bricklayers.

He had climbed up the first floor using a ladder at the stairwell opening, which had been covered with temporary boards. The boards were slid apart to allow access to the first floor.

Intending to sweep the debris down the stairwell opening, the man lifted up one of the temporary boards and stepped forward as he was going to lean it against a wall.

But he fell through the stairwell opening onto the ground floor below as there were no floorboards underneath the temporary boards.

He fractured his skull, sustained multiple broken ribs and needed a plate to be inserted into his collarbone.

An HSE investigation found the principal contractor Challenger Building Services Limited and Total Brickwork (UK) Ltd, the contractor in control of the work activity, had failed to plan, manage and monitor work at the site to ensure it could be carried out safely.

Challenger Building Services Ltd, of Horwich, Bolton, pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £1,991.32 in costs at Warrington Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Total Brickwork UK Ltd, of Runcorn, Cheshire also pleaded guilty and was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £1,991.32 in costs.

HSE inspector David Brassington said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided had the risks associated with working on the upper floors been adequately assessed and measures been taken to protect the stairwell openings.”

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