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Construction firm sentenced after worker falls down a lift pit

The incident happened at a construction site in Pontcanna, Cardiff. Stephen Harrison, a specialist drilling contractor, was employed by Jehu to help refurbish a 73-bed care home when he fell into the basement of a lift pit that was under construction.

Mr Harrison stepped onto the ground floor having been working off a tower scaffold, but stood on a loose concrete block causing him to fall backwards, head-first, into a skip full of rubble on the floor below.

A specialist Fire and Rescue team were nearby and after stabilising Mr Harrison, attached him to the hook of a tower crane and winched him out of the pit, over the site and into the carpark of a housing estate nearby where an ambulance was waiting.

Mr Harrison suffered shattered vertebrae, five broken ribs, a punctured lung and spent 18 days in hospital. He is still recovering and although not paralysed, his injuries were life-changing and he will not return to work.

HSE investigated the incident and found that Jehu had been using a system of lightweight barriers around the edges of the drop, along with bean bags at the bottom of the hole, but these were incompatible with all of the work that needed to be done by the different contractors and had been removed. Following the incident, all of the danger areas were fenced with scaffolding.

Newport Crown Court heard that there were numerous management failings associated with this project, which included a lack of effective site management and supervision, a construction plan that did not properly consider obvious working at height risks and a lack of an effective Temporary Works Management System.

Jehu Project Services Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, Regulation 13(1) and Work at Height Regulations 2005, Regulation 6(3) and was fined £143,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £15,029.30.

Added: 25-08-2016
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