Builder Failed to Provide Safe System of Work leading to Worker Injury

An unsafe method of work which was poorly-planned and presented ‘abundant risks’ to workers has led to the inevitable- 2 workers were injured while performing their duties.

The owner of the building company responsible has been prosecuted after 2 workers were injured when they fell during the dismantling of a mezzanine floor in July 2012. The incident took place in Leeds in the UK but is the perfect example of the need to ensure site safety is planned carefully and workers are provided with a safe working environment and system of work.

One of the injured workers suffered 2 fractured vertebrae and was unable to continue working in the construction industry because of impaired lifting and carrying abilities. The second worker suffered a concussion and has since made a full recovery.

The following excerpt from a post on explains what happened:

mezzaninefall2The mezzanine was located in a warehouse being purchased by George Simms (partner in Simco Services) who engaged the two men to dismantle the floor.

Leeds Magistrates heard (18 Sept) that Mr Simms gave inadequate thought to planning the work, and existing handrails, intended to prevent falls from the mezzanine, were removed.

HSE told the court that Mr Simms had not considered how the work should be undertaken. The men worked at height with no safeguards in place to prevent them falling and were repeatedly working close to open edges.

The investigation was unable to identify exactly how the two workers fell but it is believed a “board broke” causing it to slip. HSE said it was the ad-hoc nature of the work which ultimately led to the serious risks faced by the men.


The fines sustained by the company were quite hefty because of the fact that one of the workers suffered lasting spinal injuries and could easily have died during the incident.

Following the case a health and safety inspector stated that the two men who fell from height could easily have been killed. While one has been lucky enough to make a good recovery, the other suffered lasting spinal injuries which meant he had to give up work, severely impacting his life in a negative way.

The employer failed to provide a safe work method for the workers and there were obvious risks presented by the work of workers falling off or through the mezzanine which the employer failed to address, this directly led to the incident.

The health inspector also reminded the industry that work from heights is still the single greatest cause of fatal incidents in the workplace and proper planning is vital to ensure that it can be carried out safely. This involves also choosing the most suitable equipment and ensuring that work being conducted is properly supervised.

Another important consideration in addition to a safe work environment and safe system of work is adequate training. In Oz that entails providing site specific safety training and ensuring that workers have also completed general construction safety induction training also known as the White Card.



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