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Galliford Try and Parkstone Group fined after Edgbaston worker fall

Galliford Try Construction and Parkstone Group have each been fined £13,500 and ordered to pay costs after a Coventry worker was injured by falling six meters through a poorly-covered hole in the floor during work at Edgbaston cricket ground.

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Galliford Try was principal contractor for the work, with the incident occurring in November 2010 at a fifth floor plant room undergoing construction.

Contract worker Ian Howells, 33, of Tile Hill, punctured his lung, broke all the ribs on the left hand side of his body, shattered the bones in his left hand and fractured his pelvis in three places, after he stepped onto what he thought was a pile of wood covered by plastic.

Bedridden for two months, Mr Howells was unable to work for a year afterwards. He has still not regained full use of his hand, and walks with a limp.

Birmingham Magistrates Court heard yesterday that Mr Howell and a colleague were trying to move a heavy floor grinder, when he stepped onto the wood.

He was unaware it was a pallet covered in polythene placed on top of scaffolding that concealed a service void.

The pallet snapped, and Mr Howell dropped to the fourth floor below.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found that neither company had properly assessed the risks or devised a safe system of work for moving the floor grinder.

HSE found that information hadn’t been provided to anyone working on site about the risks posed by covered voids, and no signage was affixed to the void.

The body also found no safe access to the room had been provided, with workers accessing the fifth floor by pulling themselves through the void and then a gap between a scaffolding guard rail.

Both firms pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

After the hearing HSE inspector Paul Thompson said: “This incident was entirely preventable. The system of work adopted by Galliford Try and Parkstone Group was unplanned and unsafe.

“Workers were not provided with a safe means by which to do their jobs, or the right equipment to help them do it.

“The hole in the floor had been covered with a polythene-covered pallet to prevent rain from getting in, but it was not obvious that it was concealing a hidden danger and individuals at work were not informed of this.

“As a result Mr Howells has suffered life-changing injuries that he will never fully recover from.”

The HSE provides information about working safely at height on its website.

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