A London property development company has been sentenced after a migrant worker suffered severe head injuries when he fell from scaffolding at a Hackney warehouse.
The 46-year-old fell more than five metres from an incomplete tower scaffold – being used to remove floor beams from two levels of a warehouse on Homerton High Street, Hackney, on 13 October 2009.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the client Nabiganj Investment Company Limited who employed the man as a principal contractor, failed to implement a number of measures that could have prevented the incident.
HSE inspectors found asbestos in debris from the demolition work and discovered that no asbestos survey had been conducted prior to work starting.
City of London Magistrates heard at least six Chinese migrant workers who spoke very little English had been demolishing floors and moving debris around, potentially exposing themselves to asbestos fibres. The worker who fell from the scaffold suffered life-threatening injuries to his head, pelvis and spine and can now only walk with difficulty.
Nabiganj Investment Company Limited of Alexandra Park Road, London pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) (a), Regulation 10, Regulation 14(1) and Regulation 16(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company was fined £37,500 and ordered to pay costs of £5,459.90.
The court heard that the firm has had previous enforcement action imposed on it relating to other sites, including two Improvement Notices for failure to comply with client duties under Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) and two Prohibition Notices for work at height.
Speaking after the sentence, HSE Inspector Eileen Gascoigne said:
“A vulnerable worker was left with devastating injuries as a result of the consistently poor attitude to safety this company has displayed.
“This is an experienced property development firm, it has had previous enforcement action taken against it by the HSE relating to similar issues during construction work. Once again in avoiding its responsibilities, it has put the safety and health of at least six vulnerable workers at unnecessary risk.”