Health and Safety News

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Berkshire contractor prosecuted for guard rail failure

The guard rail through which Mr. Williams fellA building firm has been prosecuted for safety failings after a decorator was seriously injured when he fell through a substandard guard rail at a housing development in Reading.

Phillip Williams, 63, from Reading, fractured his hip, broke five ribs, chipped a bone in his spine and was left with internal bleeding and clotting around his lungs as a result of the fall during the construction of a house at Wintringham Way on 30 August last year.

On 8 June 2012, Reading Magistrates' Court heard that he had been sub-contracted to work at the property by the main contractor W. Pocock and Sons Limited, a local family-run business.

Mr. Williams was walking towards a first floor light-well to talk to workers on the ground floor. As he leant in against a wooden guard rail it gave way and he fell approximately 2.6 metres to the ground floor below.

He was hospitalised for three weeks as a result of his injuries, and needed three months of recuperation before gradually returning to work.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and found the guard rail in the light well had been removed and replaced prior to the incident in order to pass materials from the ground floor to the first. This seemingly caused the fixings to deteriorate, therefore making the guard rail inadequate to prevent a person from falling - a direct failing on behalf of the contractor.

W. Pocock and Sons, of New Lane Hill, Tilehurst, pleaded guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 in relation to the incident. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,706 in costs.


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