Barnstaple building firm must pay £23,000 after worker injured in fall
A FAMILY firm of builders has been ordered to pay more than £23,000 for contravening health and safety regulations.
G Loosemore and Son Ltd of Loosemore House, Brannam Crescent, Roundswell Business Park, Barnstaple, pleaded guilty to failing to take sufficient measures to prevent a person falling a distance liable to cause injury.
The company also admitted failing to take practicable steps to prevent danger to a person while excavation work was being done.
Both charges relate to building work for a two storey extension at the rear of a cottage called Woodside, Middle Marwood, near Barnstaple.
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Annette Walker, for the prosecution, told North Devon Magistrates that the case was brought following an investigation into an incident in which a worker stumbled and fell five metres down an unguarded bank.
The worker, Harold Heale, a sub-contractor, was excavating an area for footings to be installed when the accident happened on October 6 2011.
On climbing out of the cab of his excavator in order to change the bucket, he stumbled.
He grabbed hold of a handle inside the digger in an attempt to save himself from falling but it came off in his hand.
Mrs Walker told the court there was no protection at the time to prevent him falling.
The 65-year-old suffered three fractured vertebrae, broken ribs and sternum, lung damage and a head wound that required stitches.
The court also heard that several parties on site said there were previous collapses of material.
Mrs Walker said although there was no injury resulting from that, the risks were significant.
The falls of material should have served as a warning but were not heeded.
A prohibition notice was subsequently served to prevent further excavation work until an assessment was made.
Sara Svensson, for the defence, said the project was assessed as a difficult one because of the location of the cottage, the compacted ground and the problems of getting machinery in and out of the site.
A risk assessment was done, not only in relation to working at height but also relating to other issues involved in the project.
One of the first jobs was to try to get rid of the earth behind the house which was very difficult logistically.
One of the things that was needed was a hand rail and Mr Heale’s job was to make preparations for the hand rail to be installed.
But she said he should not have been working in the area where he fell.
The company had been going for 99 years and in all that time they had never had a problem with health and safety.
Following the accident they engaged a geologist at considerable expense.
Also, the prohibition notice was observed to the letter.
Miss Svensson said the project had to have substantial alterations to address concerns and the company made a loss of £80,000.
She said the incident was an isolated one and stressed the company had a good safety record.
She said Mr Heale’s injuries had been resolved to the point that he was back at work.
The company was given a total fine of £12,000 and told to pay costs of £11,195 and a victim surcharge of £15.