HSE warns companies to undertake risk assessments properly after a fall from height

A demolition company has been fined £15,000 after an electrician was seriously injured on site.

The HSE has issued a warning for companies to take risk assessments seriously, following the heavy fine imposed on Wooldridge Ecotec Ltd, which pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety Act.

The HSE brought the prosecution following an incident on 11 March 2005 in which electrician Barry Murrell fell more than 5m while working for the firm on a building in London that was due for explosive demolition.

He sustained serious injuries including a broken pelvis, fracture to his right hip, a broken rib and a shattered hip socket after stepping on steel sheet material that had been covering a hole and fell away from him.

The company was fined £15,000 and £4971 costs and Nicholas Anderson, a company director, fined £5,000 and £1,657 costs, after pleading guilty to a breach of section 3.1 of the 1974 Act.

Wooldridge simply failed to implement the necessary measures

Lorraine Charles

HSE inspector Loraine Charles said: “The risks of falls from height on this demolition project and the measures needed to control those risks had been identified on more than one occasion; Wooldridge simply failed to implement the necessary measures. The director, Mr Anderson, had personal knowledge of the circumstances surrounding or leading to this accident and he failed to take obvious steps to prevent it.”

The investigation by HSE found that a health and safety plan had been produced by Wooldridge Ecotec Ltd, and there had been an inspection by a Wooldridge’s health and safety adviser.

Nicholas Anderson was declared responsible for health and safety on site but did not carry out any risk assessments for the electricians and the firm did not take effective steps to control risks to subcontracted electricians.

“Mr Murrell’s injuries were very serious,” added Ms Charles, “but the consequences could have been far worse.”