Although safety procedures are generally better today than ten years ago in the construction industry, nearly 3000 workers a year are still suffering from serious injuries due to conditions at work and around fifty workers receive fatal injuries each year.
A building worker, a bricklayer from Southport, suffered a broken back when falling through joists on a construction site at Widnes last year and the Health and Safety Executive has recently prosecuted the contractor he worked for for failing to provide sufficient safety measures as required by the 2005 Work at Height Regulations.
The building worker was stepping out of a window onto a trestle laid between the floor joists and tripped up. He then fell from the first floor to the ground floor level and ended up losing consciousness for a while and breaking his back. The incident happened in May 2011, but the prosecution only eventuated a week ago with the Liverpool based firm being fined thirteen and a half thousand pounds with additional court costs of seven and a half thousand pounds.
The worker has recovered reasonably well but, as the HSE inspector Dr Tom Baldwin pointed out during the prosecution hearing, could have easily suffered from far worse consequences and could have easily been killed.
Building firms are supposed to incorporate an internal staircase into the type of building site that the accident took place in to avoid workers having to use external ladders or more precarious ways of accessing the construction area that they are working on. The internal staircase was missing in this particular case.
The construction site the injured worker had been working on was a refurbishment of four small terraced houses and a corner shop in Widnes.
The firm pleaded guilty to the failure to provide adequate safety measures at the construction site during the hearing. The HSE inspector said that all it would have taken would have been to lay wooden boards on top of the joists as well as a satisfactory internal access way to the first floor. This would have made the whole first floor site a lot safer and would have meant the firm was adhering to the Work at Height Regulations.