Firm fined £25K for safety breach

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The worker spent a week in hospital after suffering seven rib fractures and injuries to his head when the platform he and another employee were standing on collapsed, the Royal Court heard yesterday.

Health and safety inspector Michael Cayless told the court that the man, who was working for JP Mauger, was so badly injured that he was unable to sleep in a bed for a month and instead had to use a chair. The employee has since returned to work.

The company was carrying out a long-term project on a property in St Martin when the accident took place on 27 January.

The two employees were working unsupervised in a room and standing on the platform, which Mr Cayless described as ‘a very unsafe environment to be working at height from’. He said the presence of a lower, but not an upper, guard rail also presented a ‘very serious tripping hazard’.

Describing the incident, Crown Advocate Lauren Hallam, prosecuting, said that when one of the men slipped off the scaffold, the momentum of the other employee going to help caused the whole platform to collapse.

The men fell a metre and a half to the floor, with the worker who had gone to help being seriously injured.

Advocate Hallam pointed out that a site supervisor was not present at the time and added: ‘The lack of supervision is the reason we are here today.’

JP Mauger admitted the health and safety breach at a hearing in February. Advocate Adam Harrison, defending, called it an ‘isolated incident’.

He said that usually there were two managers on site to supervise work but that on this occasion, one was on annual leave and the other was off site.

The advocate said the employees were not meant to be working on the platform, which was constructed to catch falling material.

He said that the company had complied with the health and safety inspectorate and revised its policies, including creating a ‘scafftag’ that would let
workers know the scaffolding was safe, to prevent future incidents.

‘The company has done all it reasonably can do to ensure there will be no repeat of this incident,’ said Advocate Harrison.

Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae, presiding, said the court agreed with the Crown that the firm’s ‘culpability was high and there was a significant risk of harm’, as demonstrated by the injuries suffered by the employee and the risk to which the other was exposed.

As well as being fined, the company was ordered to pay £5,000 towards prosecution costs.

Jurats Pamela Pitman and Steven Austin-Vautier were sitting.

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