Suspended prison sentence for builder after falling timber hits 3-year-old's head

A self-employed builder was given a suspended jail sentence when he appeared in court on 4 June after a three-year-old girl suffered severe head injuries when a length of timber fell on her. The timber was being hoisted up the outside of a scaffold when it fell.

Brighton Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 6 July 2018, the girl and her mother, who was pushing her daughter in a buggy, were walking along Preston Street in Brighton. As they passed the scaffolding, erected on the pavement for refurbishment work to a flat above, the length of timber fell from approximately 10m, striking the girl on the head.

The three-year-old suffered portentially life changing injuries. While she has made significant progress towards recovery, it is not yet known whether she has suffered permanent injuries.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the builder in control of the works was Grzegorz Glowacki, who had tied the length of timber to a rope to lift it up the outside of the scaffold using a pulley. However, the knot used was not suitable and the timber slipped out, falling to the ground. There was no exclusion zone in place to prevent pedestrians from passing under the drop zone.

Grzegor Glowacki, of Rugby Road, Brighton, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8 (1) of the Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 220 hours of unpaid work and ordered to repay full costs of bringing the prosecution of £5,727.92.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Stephen Green said: “This horrendous incident would have been the last thing on the minds of this little girl and her mum as they set off for a fun day out at the beach. The impact this incident has had on the girl and her family was easily prevented by simply stopping people from walking beneath the suspended timber while it was lifted. This risk should have been identified by Mr Glowacki.

“Companies and individuals should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action when members of the public are needlessly put at risk.”