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Barratt and David Wilson Homes fined £140,000 after electrician’s fall

21 December 2020

A housebuilder has been fined £140,000 after an electrician punctured a lung and suffered multiple fractures when he fell through plasterboard in a loft he was working in.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard that on 10 May 2018, workers were laying cabling and ducting in loft spaces at newly built residential properties in Swanmore, Southampton without suitable or sufficient protection from falls at height.

The 49-year-old electrician fell through the plasterboard loft flooring sustaining multiple fractures to his ribs, shoulders and vertebrae, in addition to a punctured lung.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that BDW Trading Ltd, the registered name of Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes, and electrical contractor Quayside Electrical Ltd had failed to prevent a fall from height. BWD Trading Ltd had created the loft space by installing the ceiling of the room below using plasterboard, known as top tacking, before the electricians had completed the installation of cables and ducting. This meant that work in the loft was above fragile plasterboard and sufficient precautions were not taken by either company to prevent the electrician from falling through the plasterboard.

BDW Trading Ltd of Barratt House, Cartwright Way, Forest Business Park, Bardon Hill, Coalville, Leicestershire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £140,000, ordered to pay costs of £3,689.15 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Quayside Electrical Ltd of Unit 22, Mount Pleasant Industrial Estate, Southampton, Hampshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005. They were fined £20,000 ordered to pay costs of £3,521.15 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Fiona Woods said: “Falls from height remain the most common cause of work-related fatalities and serious injuries in the construction industry. The risks associated with working at height are well known. It is important that those in control of working at height take appropriate control measures to safeguard workers and others.”