Health and Safety News

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Church fined after worker paralysed in fall

A church council in South Kensington has been prosecuted for safety failings after a self-employed joiner was left paralysed when he fell from the balcony of St Paul's church in Onslow Square.

The worker fell three metres from a poorly guarded balcony during refurbishment work at the site. Holy Trinity Brompton parish council - which has three churches under its auspices - was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the incident on 3 March 2010.

Westminster Magistrates' Court was told, on 25 April, that construction work on St Paul's balcony began early in 2009 to install an adjustable floor and hand rail so the area could be used in a stepped church seating style or a flat raised position for seminar use.

A high barrier was erected around the balcony to guard against falls from height, but was taken down after several months after claims it interfered with movement of materials around the site.

Instead a lower rail was installed which was just over a metre high when the floor was in stepped position and just 20cms above the level of the floor when adjusted to its raised position.

The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Holy Trinity Brompton with St Paul Onslow Square (HTB) admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Following strong mitigation put forward by the defence counsel, the church council was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £4,457.60.


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