Fall from Height Caused Permanent Back Injury

Two Companies Fined after Worker Fall 25908

Two Scottish companies have been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a 37-year-old worker was injured in an accidental fall from height.

Fell from Height of 4 Metres

Scott Massie, aged 37 at the time of the accident, was employed by Riverside Construction Aberdeen, which had been subcontracted by Aberdeen Fabrication (A-FAB) to work on a major refurbishment project on a property in the Market Street area of the city.

Peterhead Sheriff Court heard that Mr Massie was replacing a floorboard over a hole in the first floor. The gap was used to hoist important materials from the ground floor to higher storeys, but had outlived its usefulness and was set to be filled so construction could continue.

But as the Scot manoeuvred the board into position, it fell through the hole and set Mr Massie off balance, sending him falling to the floor below. Mr Massie landed on his back nearly four metres below, fracturing his spine in several places.

At first, the construction worker started to call out for help, but no one heard him and he had to crawl back up to the first floor before colleagues found him and called for an ambulance.

Permanent Back Injury 

After arriving at hospital, Mr Massie was diagnosed with eight fractures to his vertebrae and two broken ribs.

The man had to stay in hospital for almost two months and had to go through painful physiotherapy to learn how to walk again. He has also since been told he has a permanent lower back injury.

After being informed about the work accident, the HSE launched an investigation to establish the facts of the case.

It was discovered that just a few weeks before Mr Massie fell, the HSE had served an Improvement Notice on principal contractor A-FAB after concerns over a lack of safeguarding to protect against fall from height accidents.

After the investigation, the HSE established that A-FAB had failed to sufficiently address safety issues that would prevent people from falling through holes in the floors and it was taken to Court alongside Riverside Construction Aberdeen.

Court Action

For its part in Mr Massie's injuries, A-FAB was fined £45,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Riverside Construction was hit with a smaller, but still substantial, fine of £30,000 after it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the trial ended, HSE's principal inspector Isabelle Martin said, "It was clear there was a risk of a fall through the holes in the floor at this site and had Aberdeen Fabrications and Riverside Construction (Aberdeen) taken the action required by HSE inspectors this incident could have been avoided.

"But as a result of the failings of his employer Riverside Construction and the principal contractor Aberdeen Fabrications, Mr Massie has suffered severe injuries from which he is unlikely to ever fully recover.

"Falls from height are the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and there is no excuse for employers failing to protect workers."

By Chris Stevenson