Kier fined £200,000 after worker's life-threatening fall

13 July 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

Kier Facilities Services has been fined £200,000 after a worker suffered life-threatening injuries following a fall from a flat roof.

Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 1 December 2014, after a leak had been identified on a flat roof at Downsell Primary School, facility managers Kier Facilities Services requested action to be taken by its subcontractor, JHH Engineering.

While undertaking the repair work, the JHH Engineering employee fell, suffering a life-changing head injury. The worker has been left with severe cognitive effects including memory loss, behavioural and mood changes, and a reduced ability to care for himself.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident, found that site-specific planning was not requested from JHH Engineering, nor provided, and that the work was not monitored. 

Kier Facilities Services failed to implement its own work at height procedures and ensure subcontractors were vetted, the HSE said. The investigation also found the roof was accessed by an employee of JHH Engineering using an unsecured, damaged ladder of insufficient length which was missing its rubber feet and stability bar. No harness was found, and the employee had not used the fall restraint system provided by Kier whilst on the roof.

JHH Engineering of Mechanics Workshop, New Lanark, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of HSWA 1974 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,967.12

Kier Facilities Services of Tempsford Hall, Sandy, Bedfordshire pleaded guilty to  breaching Section 3(1) of HSWA 1974 and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,923.72

HSE inspector Charles Linfoot said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of serious injury and death in the UK.   All work at height, including that of subcontractors, should be properly planned, organised, and monitored to ensure that it is undertaken by workers who are sufficiently trained and supervised using appropriate equipment.”

Kier and JHH Engineering were two of four companies to receive fines this week following HSE prosecutions related to working at height.

Scunthorpe-based roofing contractor Broadley Roofing was also fined £53,000 after a worker suffered numerous fractures falling through a fragile roof.

Grimsby magistrates’ court heard how the employee was working on a roof while the company was carrying out external refurbishment of the warehouse of a former retail store at Skippingdale Industrial Estate, Scunthorpe.

On 30 September 2016, the worker was on the roof working when he fell six metres on to a solid concrete floor. He suffered numerous fractures including his vertebrae, shoulder, ankle, and ribs.

The company of Hebden Road, Scunthorpe, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Meanwhile, an Essex-based construction company this week received a £36,666 fine after an HSE inspector witnessed two workers working on a roof which had unprotected, potentially fragile roof lights without sufficient control measures in place in August 2015.

Survey Roofing Group, of Kingfisher House, Billericay, Essex, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The news came as the Building Safety Group reported a 13% increase in the number of safety breaches involving working at height across the first half of 2018.

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