Content category: Directors liability insurance
Three companies operating on an Exeter building site have been handed a fine after two workers sustained severe injuries due to falling down a lift shaft.
The firms were ordered to pay a total of £232,000 following the incident, which saw the members of staff plummet four storeys when the platform they were working on collapsed at Exeter University.
A hearing at Exeter Crown Court revealed the men were building new student accommodation for the learning institute before the incident at the former Elmfield Nursery in New North Road.
Cowlin Construction was fined £85,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in legal costs following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), while timber frame building provider Prestoplan was fined £35,000 and £22,000 fees.
Somerset Carpenters, which supplied labour at the site, was also penalised £50,000 with £20,000 costs and was handed a prohibition notice by the HSE after an inspection at the site banned them from operating until measures had been implemented to stop workers falling down the shaft.
Following this, a wooden platform was erected over the open space but collapsed two weeks later, leaving employees Ricki Slocombe and Matthew Blackmore with serious injuries.
Mr Slocombe, 35, who suffered two broken legs, was forced to use a wheelchair for several months and has been unable to return to work, while his colleague suffered a broken back.
Speaking after the legal proceedings, HSE inspector Simon Chilcott said it was a "terrifying incident" for the two men, which could have resulted in their deaths.
He added: "As it was, they suffered severe injuries, which were life-changing in the case of Mr Slocombe.
"Contractors and employers must make sure they have taken all reasonable measures to provide a safe environment for workers to work in and that any temporary structures are secure."
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