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Construction firm fined after fall leaves employee paralysed

A construction firm has been ordered to pay over £100,000 compensation after an employee was left paralysed from the waist down when he fell from an unguarded window space.

What happened?

The 38-year-old was part of a team of workers transforming two Victorian hostels into four single town houses.

Throughout the project windows were removed, and an investigation into the incident found that this was done in an ad-hoc and uncontrolled manner.

No measures had been put in place to prevent employees falling through the empty spaces left by the windows, and in some cases there were open voids for a period of four to six weeks.

The victim fell through one of these voids while attempting to connect a temporary electricity supply. He lost his balance and fell 8 metres onto a concrete basement floor below.

The incident has left the employee, who is from Beckenham, unable to walk, and he will have to overcome physical and emotional trauma as he adjusts to life in a wheelchair.

What was the outcome?

Habitat Construction LLP, plead guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £16,620in costs.

HSE inspector, Toby Webb, said:

“We found a catalogue of working-at-height risks throughout the site, including
the use of simple netting as edge protection to a deep
excavation and the removal of windows without
installing appropriate protection.

“The unguarded windows posed a clear and extremely serious risk, not only
for this unfortunate worker but for others at the site
who worked near what were effectively open voids.

“Sub-contractors were also placed in danger because there was nothing to
stop equipment or debris from falling from the window spaces.

“The onus was on Habitat Construction to ensure appropriate safety measures were in place, but the company clearly failed its legal responsibilities in this regard.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email

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