A 17-year-old labourer from south-west London had a narrow escape after surviving a four-metre fall through a hole in a loft with only cuts and bruises.
However, his employer, More Than Lofts Ltd of Worcester Park, Sutton, suffered a financial penalty when it was prosecuted yesterday by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for safety failings that led to the incident.
Westminster Magistrates Court was told the young worker was part of a team converting the loft at a property in Hammersmith when the incident happened on 6th June last year.
He stepped on some fragile material that covered a void in the floor and fell four metres, landing on a staircase. The worker, from Morden, who does not wish to be named, suffered no significant injuries.
HSE’s investigation found there were several uncovered or poorly-covered fragile surfaces in the loft space on site. It said More Than Lofts Ltd had failed to take suitable action to prevent falls, such as using platforms or robust covers for the holes in the loft floor.
The court also heard that the company had been served with a Prohibition Notice by HSE in June 2010 halting all work underway on a loft conversion because of the immediate dangers to workers from the lack of safety measures.
More Than Lofts Ltd, of Central Road, Worcester Park, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £729 in full costs after admitting a breach of the Work at Height Regulations.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Gavin Pugh said: “This young man had an extremely lucky escape from what could have been a fatal or severe injury in a fall of that distance. He and his co-workers were put in unnecessary danger by the careless approach to safety demonstrated by More Than Lofts Ltd.
“Companies that skirt around safety put lives at risk. The hazards presented by working on or close to fragile surfaces are widely known in the industry and there are numerous deaths and injuries to workers as a result of safety failures every year.”