A HUDDERSFIELD building company has been fined after a worker was left seriously injured in an accident.
Lindley-based building refurbishment contractors Fosters Turn-Key pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations.
The now defunct company was the main contractor for a refurbishment project at the Ashenhurst Student Village in Newsome between June and September, 2007.
Worker Trevor Dawson, of Ravensthorpe, was painting one of the student flats when he fell down a stairwell.
The 58-year-old was taken to hospital but suffered serious injuries from the fall, including brain damage.
The Health and Safety Executive immediately launched an investigation into the company, and yesterday two companies and two former directors appeared before Huddersfield magistrates.
Fosters, Liversedge Decorating Contractors, which was subcontracted to undertake the work, and its directors Paul Daniel and Clive Dewhirst, all pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the correct safety procedures were in place for workers.
Magistrates ordered both companies to pay £2,000 each as well as £1,000 towards prosecution costs.
Daniel and Dewhirst had to pay £1,000 each plus £500 prosecution costs.
Andrew Cameron, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, told magistrates that in 2007 Fosters, based in Plover Road, was principle contractor for the student accommodation project.
This work was subcontracted out to Thornhill-based Liversedge Decorating, which provided painting and decorating services.
The company appointed 10 workers for the job, one of whom was Mr Dawson.
Mr Cameron said: "On August 15, while working on Flat 17, Mr Dawson fell. He came to rest, along with a set of step ladders, at the foot of the stairs on the ground floor.
"He suffered serious injuries as a result of the fall and the Health and Safety Executive commenced investigation.
"Four defendants face charges. As the principle contractor Fosters were required to properly manage and monitor the work to ensure it was carried out without risk to health and safety – it accepts that failure.
"The work was carried out with significant risk to health and safety.
"Much of the decorators’ work involved working at height, and Liversedge was required to properly plan and supervise and ensure it was carried out in a manner that was safe. It accepts it failed to properly do this."
The court was told Daniel and Dewhirst were aware that the painters and decorators were undertaking work at height not properly planned or supervised, and they were dangerous practices."
Magistrates heard that workers had to paint a number of high-level windows.
But rather than use tower scaffolding to give workers a safe platform, step ladders were used.
One worker said in a statement he had been told the only way to paint the windows was to place a ladder on a first floor landing and lean across the stairwell below.
Another, David Coyle, said: "The angle of the ladder was very shallow, meaning that most of my weight was in the middle. I believed it to be unsafe."
Michelle Brown, defending Fosters, said the company admitted failing to adequately monitor the project.
She said: "There were general risk assessments carried out, but these control measures did not extend to the decorating aspect of this project.
"Fosters put some misplaced reliance on the ability of the subcontractors to carry out the work safely.
"It has not wiped its hands of obligations, but the level of monitoring was not up to scratch as required by regulations."
Stuart Ponting, defending Liversedge Decorating and its directors, said his clients’ supervision of the project had been inadequate.
He said his clients made the wrong decision that workers should work from ladders as erecting scaffolding was a complex job.
The court heard that Fosters went into liquidation in February last year, while the other company was struggling to get work.
Fosters Turn-Key Contractors Ltd said in a statement: "This was an unfortunate accident which has affected everyone concerned.
"The company’s thoughts are with the injured party and his family.
"The company had been trading for 12 years and prior to this had a good health and safety record.
"Whilst the company takes health and safety seriously it had not appreciated that their monitoring and inspection regimes in place at the time of the accident were not sufficient and took immediate steps to ensure compliance".