Firm fined £100,000 after worker left in coma

A contractor has been ordered to pay £115,000 after a worker fell from a roof and was left in a coma for six weeks.

Southwark Crown Court fined MH Costa Construction £96,000 and ordered it to pay £18,965.66 in costs following the incident in west London four years ago.

MH Costa had been renovating a six-storey house in Fulham when the worker fell through an opening created in an extension roof to install a skylight.

He fell more than 3 metres and received serious head injuries that led to him being in a coma for six weeks.

According to a statement from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), investigators found that the opening had been covered with loose planks that could be dislodged by “a small movement”.

The company’s risk-assessment records did not consider how to prevent falls through the opening, the watchdog found, and no scaffolding or other measures were in place to prevent a fall off the sides of the flat roof.

Other areas with risks of falling were uncovered by the HSE, as well as issues relating to manual handling, trip hazards, hazardous wood dust and the storage of flammable materials.

There was also no evidence of the injured worker having been provided with formal health and safety training.

MH Costa Construction, registered to an address in Barnet, north London – but operating from a nearby site near Mill Hill Broadway – pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 13 (1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said after the sentencing that almost a quarter of deaths from workplace falls from height are related to roofers.

“It is well known in the construction industry that working on roofs is a high-risk activity,” he said. “It is essential [that] it is carefully planned.

“The worker suffered serious injuries and may never be able to work again. It is just good fortune he was not killed, but it must have been terrible for his family waiting for those six weeks when he was in a coma.

“The company ignored good opportunities to review and improve their arrangements before this tragic incident.”

It emerged that the HSE had served notification of contraventions on the company at two other sites during the previous six months, including unsafe working at height.

MH Costa Construction has been contacted for comment.

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