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Leisure centre contractors fined total of £17,000 after worker breaks back

Two building contractors have been fined a total of £17,000 after a worker broke his back when he fell four metres from a leisure centre roof.

The 36-year-old man from Kettlebrook, Tamworth, fractured a vertebra in his lower back after falling from the roof at Southview Leisure Park, Skegness, on 8th March last year.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation and on 8th September prosecuted SJ Roberts Construction Ltd, of Welshpool, and Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd of Tamworth.

Lincoln Magistrates’ Court was told that SJ Roberts Construction Ltd had been appointed principal contractor for the installation of a new flume tower and swimming pool extension at the leisure park.

Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd were employed as sub-contractors to install a new air-handling unit and associated pipework for the swimming pool.

The man, an employee of Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd, was working on the roof of the swimming pool extension, which was accessed by internal stairs, connecting the various ducts and pipes with the air-handling unit. Most of the roof was protected but a section was left exposed, presenting a fall risk.

While working, the man was standing on a narrow plywood area around half a metre wide, close to the open edge.

His route to the stairs was blocked when he needed to go and collect some tools. While walking along the plywood next to the open edge, the plywood gave way and he fell four metres.

He spent five days in hospital, needed a back brace when discharged, and was unable to work for more than three months.

SJ Roberts Construction Ltd of Marton, Welshpool, admitted to breaching two Regulations of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £645.60.

Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd of Belgrave, Tamworth, Staffordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay costs of £519.60

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Copeman said:

“Throughout the whole process of roof work, there was no adequate protection against falls, such as barriers on the open edge. Had he tripped and fallen from the edge of the roof, we could have been dealing with a fatal incident.

“SJ Roberts Construction Ltd and Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd put workers’ lives in danger. They failed to recognise their responsibility to ensure that work at height carried out under their control was done safely.”

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