Construction firm fined after bricklayer fractures skull

Credit: HSE

A construction company has been fined after a bricklayer fell through an opening and fractured his skull.

Scott Ife, aged 30, from Bridgnorth was working for 2 Counties Construction (Midlands) when he fell four-and-a-half metres through a stairwell opening onto the concrete floor below.

The company had been hired as the principal contractor overseeing the refurbishment of agricultural barns into houses on Humber Lane in Telford.

Ife had been laying blocks to form gable walls for a two-storey extension alongside another employee. The pair set up a working platform using Youngman boards on the first floor of the property. As there was an unprotected stairwell opening in the property, one end of the Youngman boards was unsupported.

Whilst leaning across to paint the blocks, Ife lost his balance before falling onto the unsupported Youngman boards and through the stairwell opening. He fractured his skull and damaging his facial nerve and was hospitalised for three days following the incident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified a series of failings on the part of 2 Counties Construction (Midlands) including a lack of suitable controls for preventing falls into the building and through the stairwell openings.

The HSE says there was also inadequate planning, a lack of selection of equipment for working at height and inadequate site management arrangements.

2 Counties Construction (Midlands), of Taylors Lane, Broomhall, Worcester, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

The company was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £4,139 in costs at Cannock Magistrates’ Court on 21 July 2023.

HSE inspector David Brassington said, “This incident could and should have been easily avoided. Work at height needs to be properly planned and managed to ensure that appropriate precautions are used.

“We are fortunate that the injuries resulting from these failings were not more serious.”

This prosecution was supported by HSE enforcement lawyer Nathan Cook.