Call me back

Work compensation claim for stair fall

Animation displaying broken ribs
14th May 2014
A work compensation claim could be made by a labourer who broke two ribs after falling off the edge of a temporary staircase on a construction site.

David Tourish, 38, from Moodisburn, was working for Walker Group (Scotland) Ltd on the site of a new build house in Ravelston Dykes, Edinburgh, when he suffered a fall from height.

He and a colleague were asked to carry some doors upstairs to keep them out of the way during building work.

A temporary staircase with half landings had been put in while the house was built, and there was a gap between one of the half landings and the wall, with a feature window behind it.

For most of the build, this gap had been protected by a guardrail, but two days before Mr Tourish's fall, this had been removed by a joiner to allow him to fix plasterboard to the wall, and then not replaced.

On 21 November 2009, Mr Tourish and a colleague started to carry the doors upstairs.

They managed to carry seven or eight doors up the stairs without a problem, with Mr Tourish's colleague in front, and him behind.

However, as they carried the next door up the stairs, Mr Tourish stepped off the edge of the half landing and through the gap, falling nearly three metres to the landing below.

He was taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with bruised kidneys and two fractured ribs.

Mr Tourish was off work for three months while his injuries healed and needed physiotherapy after he went back to work.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found that the work had not been planned properly as an adequate risk assessment had not taken place.

HSE inspector Alastair Brown said:

"This was a serious incident that could have been very much worse. It was also entirely avoidable.

"This incident highlights the risk posed by unplanned work at height, particularly on small domestic sites when the right equipment needs to be chosen to address risks posed by design features like staircases.

"Had Walker Group carried out a proper risk assessment it would have identified the unusual design feature of the staircase and ensured it remained a safe working area throughout the build process.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court today (27 July 2011) Walker Group (Scotland) Limited pleaded guilty to breaking Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and were fined £8,000.

Reported by Fiona Campbell