The slate came off the roof during works at the Moonfleet Manor hotel in Weymouth, Dorset, and struck the young girl on 13th June 2019.
Three companies involved were yesterday fined a total of £420,000 for their culpability.
With the hotel still in operation, the roof was being renovated by Rocare Building Services Limited. Rocare had been appointed by Moonfleet Manor as the principal contractor to oversee the refurbishment works, which also included replacing windows and restoring chimneys and gutters.
Rocare had taken off the old tiles and had begun replacing them with new slates when the incident happened. With the new slates stacked around the roof, one fell from a five metre height and landed on the three-year-old as she walked out of the hotel with her father and older brother. They had been for a swimming lesson.
After initial first aid, the child was later taken to hospital where she was put into an induced coma to stabilise her. She then underwent a two-hour operation to remove fragments of slate from her head.
Quadra Built Environmental Consultancy Limited had been hired by Moonfleet Manor as the principal designer, in charge of planning, managing and monitoring the pre-construction phase.
A Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident found that scaffolding was not fit for purpose because it did not have sufficient measures to prevent items falling – no protective fans, covered walkways or, at a minimum, brick guards around the entire perimeter. Moonfleet Manor ignored requests and failed to put in measures to address an obvious hazard of falling objects coming into contact with members of the public using the busy thoroughfare to the swimming pool. Moonfleet Manor was more concerned about putting convenience of the guests and preventing the hotel from looking like a building site than the safety of their guests, the judge found.
At Bournemouth Crown Court on 24th October 2023 Rocare Building Services Limited, of Headlands Business Park, Ringwood, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and Regulation 10 (1) of Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,554.78.
Quadra Built Environmental Consultancy Limited, of Kingsmead, Lechlade On Thames, Gloucestershire, was found guilty of breaching Regulation 11 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. It was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 in costs.
LFH (Moonfleet Manor) Limited was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £143,482.04 in costs.
HSE inspector Nicole Buchanan said: “This incident has caused significant injuries and extreme distress to a child and her family, and could have been fatal. Clients and construction companies must always remember their legal duty to keep both workers and members of the public safe. The client, principal designer and principal contractor all have a duty to work together to implement the industry standards to ensure members of the public are safe particularly if a venue is to remain live.”