A Lancashire company has been fined £3300 over an accident at the Fort Kinnaird Retail Park in Edinburgh, when a workman fell through a gap on the first floor of a building under construction.
At Edinburgh Sheriff Court today (Sept 7), Advocate, Dana Forbes, appearing for Technic Concrete Floors Ltd, pled guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The accident occurred on May 16, 2014, when the company were working as sub-contractors on the construction of a cinema and restaurant complex. Technic are specialists in laying all types of concrete floors and slabs on large-scale construction projects.
On May 16, concrete was due to be poured onto the first floor of the building and the site manager, employed by Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd., the main contractor, identified two voids in the floor as fall hazards.
They were unguarded, but had previously had barriers around them, but these had been removed to allow the pouring of the concrete.
The Site Manager had asked scaffolders to “deck out” the holes to make them safe.
However, the men did not have the correct materials and the safety measure was not carried out.
Two wooden panels were lifted up to the first floor by forklift truck and placed over the voids. Neither was secured, except for their own weight.
Mr Stephen Stewart, a self-employed subcontractor for Technic, was walking across the steel floor next to the larger hole when he went to pick up his trowel.
His boot caught on a steel stud and, as he tried to stop himself from falling, the wooden panel moved, exposing the hole and he fell 4.5 metres onto steel mesh below.
He was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where he was found to have a broken bone in his foot, two broken vertebrae and a crushed vertebrae. Mr Stewart discharged himself
from hospital the following day and had outpatient and physiotherapy treatment at his local hospital. He was given a corset brace to support his back and was off work for 22 weeks, returning in October 2014.
Ms Forbes told Sheriff Nigel Ross that Technic had carried out a comprehensive risk assessment in relation to the risk of falls from scaffolding or other work platforms, but had not addressed the risk of voids and the way they were covered.
Since the accident, they had reviewed the training requirements for their site supervisors and engaged Health and Safety consultants to ensure that similar incidents did not happen in the future.
The main contractors, Bowmer and Kirkland, were fined £6600 when they pled guilty previously.
Sheriff Ross said the risk of covering the voids with boards had not been spotted by them. “The failure seems to have been the shortcut of placing boards on top of them. Nobody spotted it was a dangerous shortcut. It was never foreseen or obvious until the boards were disturbed”. He fined Technic £3300.