Westfield fined after roof fall

The owner of the Westfield shopping centres has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,247 in costs after a worker fractured his shoulder in a fall during construction of a roof extension at White City mall.

The court heard that the company was also the principal contractor for the construction of the two-storey roof extension to an existing retail store.  The worker was one of a team of subcontractors hired to move five air conditioning units to the new roof plant deck. He and a colleague had been finishing work in preparation for the Christmas break and were carrying out a final check of the plant deck by walking around to check all their materials were secure and would not blow off the roof.   They went into an area of the plant deck where mesh flooring had recently been installed and where they had stored large sections of duct. They felt that two duct sections weren't securely lashed down, so they decided to untie them and lay them down before securing them firmly.

They were about to work on the second duct when the worker stepped back and fell through an unprotected 8m x 1m gap in the plant deck mesh flooring.  He landed on the roof deck two metres below and suffered a dislocation and fracture of his shoulder which resulted in him being off work for six months.

The court heard how the HSE’s investigation found that the worker’s fall could have been easily avoided had edge protection been placed around the gap to protect workers operating at height.  Commenting after the hearing the HSE inspector said that the hole through which the worker fell “was one of a number of planned gaps in the plant deck mesh flooring. Westfield Shoppingtowns Ltd was well aware of the potential for the creation of risks of fall from height. As the principal contractor, it should have ensured that steps were taken to mitigate those risks whenever and wherever they arose. It was under a duty to ensure that the installation of the plant deck flooring was planned to make certain that intended gaps were provided with suitable edge protection at the earliest opportunity.”

Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.

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