A Croydon-based construction company has been fined £28,500 and ordered to pay costs of £9,359 to a teenager who suffered multiple fractures and internal injuries when he fell through a skylight within weeks of starting a job with them.
Lewis Edwards, aged 17, from Sidcup in south London, had been sent up onto a warehouse roof in Hayes, Middlesex, by his employers STP Solutions in May 2009 and told to clear out the guttering. He was left alone and unsupervised to carry out the job. While crossing the roof, he stepped through a skylight and fell seven metres to the floor below, suffering multiple fractures to his pelvis, a number of vertebrae, his collar bone, upper left arm, elbow and left wrist. His spleen was ruptured and had to be removed in emergency surgery.
City of London Magistrates Court also heard that Mr Edwards had been a keen and gifted footballer who had played for West Ham Juniors but his sporting future had been curtailed by his injuries.
Mr Edwards’ mother Sara blamed STP Solutions for the accident, saying that: “16 months after Lewis’s horrific accident, he still bears the physical and mental scars that have had a tragic effect on his life, and the pressures of this have torn our family apart.”
The company, which prides itself on its ‘high quality workspace solutions’, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety Act (1974), Regulation 3 (1) (a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulaton 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations.
The Clare Hawkes of the Health and Safety Executive, which brought the case against STP Solutions, told the court:
“The horrendous injuries suffered by this young man could have been avoided if the safety risks had been managed and a safe method of work put in place…It’s the employer’s responsibility to put in place measures to ensure their employees’ safety at work.”
Falls from heights are the biggest single cause of workplace deaths in Britain, with 15 deaths and nearly 11,500 serious injuries last year.