£36k fine for height safety failings

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that on 31st October 2019, two employees of H Cumberbirch & Son were injured at a property in Over Alderley, Cheshire when the makeshift platform they were working on collapsed.

The two men, along with plywood boards and bricks, fell approximately eight feet to the concrete floor below. One sustained fractured ribs, severe bruising and a large wound to his leg, the other bruised his knees.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had not properly planned the work at height and had failed to ensure that there were suitable fall protection/prevention measures in place. Instead, it left the men to work out how best to carry out the work with what equipment they had available. The work at height was not adequately supervised to ensure that it was carried out safely.

H Cumberbirch & Son Limited of Fence Avenue in Macclesfield pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £36,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,824.

HSE inspector Sinead Martin said after the hearing: “This incident could have been prevented had the company properly planned the work at height and identified and implemented suitable control measures, such as platforms for preventing falls through the joists and scaffolding at the roof edges. Falls from height are the number one cause of serious injury and death in the construction industry.”

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