A 48 year-old labourer fell 3 metres to the ground when a newly built first floor on a building site collapsed under the weight of concrete blocks weighing 1.6 tonnes.
He sustained serious breaks in the lower leg bones and needed a major operation and a skin graft. He still cannot walk properly and is unable to return to work.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigated the incident, found Cosmos Builders had allowed the load capacity of the floor to be exceeded by seven times.
Cosmos Builders was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,000 costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height building Regulations and a separate breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.
The court heard that instead of laying three courses of blocks onto joist hangers, the first floor had been loaded with two piles, each of 88 concrete blocks weighing 1.6 tonnes.
Cosmos Builders were aware of the correct construction method, as eight previous houses on site had been properly completed. HSE inspectors also found poor management had led to other builders on the site being put in danger. When questioned, Cosmos Builders said they had wanted to ‘keep the builders busy’ whilst waiting for scaffolders to arrive.
Written by Victoria Silsbury of Swain & Co LLP, Southampton