£860,000 fines plus costs for building firms after man falls to his death

Two building companies have been fined a total of £860,000 and been ordered to pay costs of more than £45,000 following the death of a man who fell 14m after going through a temporary cover.

The companies fined are Oliver Connell & Son Ltd and Rydon Construction Ltd. They appeared before Southwark Crown Court on 15 February. 

The Court heard how, on 24 July 2015, Vasile Nichitut had been working on the fifth floor of a construction site at the Green Man Lane Estate. He stepped on to a temporary platform covering a vertical shaft. The platform gave way and he fell approximately 14m. He died as a result of his injuries.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that Oliver Connell & Son Ltd had failed to ensure that work at height was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe and practicable manner. Specifically, there was no temporary works design for the platform and the company’s system for installing and inspecting it was inadequate.

Rydon Construction Ltd failed to plan, manage and monitor the work involving the temporary platform to ensure that construction work was carried out without risk to health or safety. They failed to identify the lack of design drawings and carry out suitable checks on the platform.

Oliver Connell and Son Ltd, of Zanrose House, Horsenden Lane South, Greenford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. They were fined £360,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,834.08.

Rydon Construction Ltd, of Rydon House, Station Road, Forest Row, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015. They were fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,740.88.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Owen Rowley said: “The consequences of temporary works failing can be dire. All contractors involved must ensure that an effective system for managing the temporary works on site is established and adhered to. Crucially, all temporary works require a design to ensure they are suitable for purpose.

“In this case the failure to manage the risks associated with temporary works and work at height led to the entirely preventable death of Mr Nichitut.”