Firms fined more than £1m after accident at Tany’s Dell site left man with “catastrophic injuries”
Business / Wed 22nd Dec 2021 at 07:58am
THREE firms have been fined more than £1 million after their failings led to a workman suffering life-changing injuries when a 12kg bracket struck him on the head.
Essex firms, Lorne Stewart PLC, PG Mechanical Services Ltd (PGMS) and Essex Engineering Solutions Ltd (EES), had been involved in installing a new boiler system on an estate in Tany’s Dell in Harlow.
An accident occurred in June 2017 when a bracket, which had been hoisted by a sling attached to a gin wheel, fell from a roof and struck workman Steven McGregor on the head.
Alexander Stein, prosecuting at Chelmsford Crown Court, said: “As the third load reached roof level, [the worker] reached out to grab the brackets, one of them came loose, slipped and fell.
“Mr McGregor says he decided to take the last bracket and walk it up the stairs. As he did so, the bracket, weighing in the region of 12kg, hit him on the head.”
The court heard Mr McGregor wasn’t wearing a hard hat at the time, although the prosecution doubted it would have made any difference to his injury.
He suffered a catastrophic skull fracture and was flown by air ambulance to Royal London Hospital.
Fragments of his skull were removed from his brain and he suffered fractured vertebrae. He remained in an induced coma for two weeks and in hospital for nine months.
PGMS admitted contravening a health and safety regulation, while the other two firms were convicted of the charge after a trial.
Judge Timothy Walker said the lifting operation, overseen and carried out by PGMS and EES, amounted to “a serious and systematic failure within both organisations to address risks to health and safety”.
PGMS was ordered to pay a £184,000 fine, while EES was hit with a £200,000 penalty.
As the principal contractor and firm responsible for managing the site, Lorne Stewart was ordered to pay a £750,000 fine.
Judge Walker said: “Although systems were in place there were significant failings which allowed the unauthorised operation to take place.”
He said construction work is “inherently dangerous” and rightly highly regulated.
He added: “Those regulations are intended to ensure the safety of all those engaged in construction work.
“Employers are expected to comply with them and significant sanctions apply if they do not.
“As a result of the failings in this case Steven McGregor suffered very serious and life changing injuries.
“Each defendant was significantly responsible for failings which ultimately led to those injuries and the sentences must reflect that.”
The fines are good as that is really the only punishment that can be given. Though it seems so meaningless with regards to the horrific injuries which no amount of fines can turn back the clock and stop him getting injured.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) reported earlier this year that safety inspections of workplaces during the pandemic (between March 2020 and April 2021) amounted to just 1 in 218. The TUC also highlighted the long term decline in safety inspections. There were 27 per cent fewer Health & Safety Executive inspections carried out in the UK in 2019 than in 2011, amounting to a fall of over 5,700 inspections a year. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) benchmark for inspectors, which it recommends all countries meet, is for countries to guarantee one inspector per 10,000 workers. From the latest publicly available data, the UK would need an additional 1,797 labour market inspectors to meet this benchmark. Read more on the TUC statement at https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/only-1-218-workplaces-inspected-safety-failures-during-pandemic-tuc-finds