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Air conditioning firm fined after apprentice breaks arm in three metre fall
Published:  15 October, 2013

An air conditioning company has been fined for failing to provide adequate safety measures after an apprentice engineer broke his arm when he fell three metres through a fragile plasterboard ceiling.

The 20-year-old from Wrexham was installing an air conditioning system in the loft space above an office at Llaneurgain House in Northop when the incident happened on 14 March 2012.

Mold Magistrates' Court heard on 11 October that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Select Air Services had failed to put adequate safety measures in place.

The company had not provided enough crawling boards, which meant employees had to step from joist to joist to carry out the work. As a result, there was nothing to prevent the young worker from falling through the fragile plasterboard when he lost his footing.

He fell three metres to the floor below, broke his left arm and was off work for ten weeks as a result of his injuries.

Select Air Services Limited, of Sefton Business Park, Aintree, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £6,600 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

HSE inspector Chris Wilcox said: "The risks associated with falling through a ceiling are something most of us would recognise from our own lofts at home, yet Select Air Services Limited failed to implement basic safety measures to minimise the risk of falls.

"The workers were installing the air conditioning system above a fragile plasterboard ceiling but their employer neglected to plan the work properly and provide simple safeguards such as crawling boards or safety decking that could have prevented a fall.

"The dangers of working at height are well known and this prosecution should serve as a reminder to all contractors to ensure work is properly planned and robust safety precautions are put in place. Employers have a legal duty to manage safety and failing to do so too often ends in tragedy."