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28th January 2021


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Plumber survives fall through roof in second similar accident at site

A Warrington plumber has been able to return to work despite landing on his neck when he fell through a fragile ceiling tile, close to where a colleague had fallen previously but had managed to excape injury.

Runcorn Magistrates' Court was told the 64-year-old, who asked not to be named, could have been paralysed or even killed when he fell three metres through a suspended ceiling at a workshop on Rivington Court in Woolston.

The Health & Safety Executive prosecuted the site occupiers, Dowding and Mills UK, and the injured worker's employer, Mike Wilde, following the incident in 2008. They were fined a total of £7,000 by magistrates.

The plumber had been installing a hot water heater at the edge of a boarded area of the roof when he fell through the fragile ceiling tile. He suffered injuries to his head and neck and needed to wear a neck brace for 12 weeks.

The HSE investigation found another plumber had fallen through a ceiling tile at the premises two years earlier, but had escaped injury by grabbing hold of the ceiling boards.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Martin Heywood said:

"It's disappointing this work was allowed to go ahead without suitable planning for working at height, especially as another plumber had fallen through a roof tile at the same site.

"Dowding and Mills ignored its own procedures for checking the methods contractors intended to use when undertaking work. Mike Wilde should have made sure a safety barrier was erected or instructed the worker to wear a harness with a rope attached to a fixed point.

"Falls from just a few metres above the ground are responsible for hundreds of workplace injuries every year. Those responsible for work activities taking place at height must make sure workers stay safe."

Dowding and Mills UK pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for putting lives at risk after it failed to oversee the work properly. The company, of Camp Hill in Bordesley, Birmingham, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £1,498 in prosecution costs.

Mike Wilde, trading as Mike Wilde and Co, admitted breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 after failing to make sure the work was planned properly and carried out safely. Mr Wilde, aged 65 of Maple Crescent in Penketh, was fined £1,000 with £300 costs.

Last year, more than 4,000 workers suffered major injuries as the result of falls from height and 12 lost their lives. Information on preventing injuries is available at:


21st April 2011

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