Firm fined after worker breaks vertebrae in fall

A timber company has been fined £80,000 after a worker fell through a stairwell and fractured two vertebrae.

On 14 May 2018, a 49-year-old driver and warehouse operative was working on a barn conversion project in a village near Okehampton, Devon, which was being converted for rental use.

The worker, employed by Lamisell Ltd, was trying to access the first floor of the barn from exterior scaffolding and jumped onto a piece of insulation which was covering a stairwell.

The insulation collapsed, causing the worker to fall and break two vertebrae.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the work at the barn conversion “was not properly planned, appropriately supervised, or carried out in a safe manner when the incident occurred”.

The HSE report added that there was a lack of staff supervision.

In a case heard by Poole Magistrates’ Court on 31 August 2022, Lamisell Ltd, of Meeth, Okehampton (Devon) pleaded guilty to breaching Section 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The firm was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,331 and a £170 victim surcharge.

HSE inspector Peter Buscombe said: “This worker’s injuries were serious. This incident could have been avoided if basic safeguards had been put in place.”

Buscombe added that the risks of working from height were well known in the industry.

More construction workers die from falls from height than any other type of workplace injury. For the period between April and December 2021, 10 out of 24 construction deaths were caused by falls on sites.

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