A site supervisor has been fined after a construction worker was paralysed in a 10-metre fall from the roof of a Tyneside warehouse.
Phillip Giles, 24, from South Shields, fell from an unprotected and fragile roof after his supervisor allowed workers onto the roof while removing cement sheets from it.
He suffered multiple injuries and has been left paralysed from the neck down as a result of the fall on 5 September 2011.
Durham Crown Court heard that site supervisor Paul Joseph Burke, 56, of Lightcliffe Road, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, had violated his company’s safety policy and sanctioned an unsafe system of work by allowing workers to go onto the roof.
Mr Burke’s employer, which had a contract to remove asbestos cement roofs from a number of warehouses on Drum industrial estate in Birtley, Tyne and Wear, had identified the roofs as fragile and agreed a system of work where its employees would use scissor lifts, removing the roof sheets from the underside.
But the court heard that Mr Burke permitted a change to the system of work, whereby he and other employees went onto the roof to carry out some of the work.
The HSE found the company’s agreed system was safe but, by changing it, Mr Burke had sanctioned an unsafe system of work.
The company was unaware of the changed way of working and Mr Burke had failed to consult with them.
Mr Burke pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to breaching Regulation 4(1)(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 between 4 August and 5 September 2011, by failing to properly supervise work at height and make sure it was carried out safely.
He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £9,765.88 in costs.
Speaking after the case, Mr Giles said: “I welcome the fact that the HSE has taken this action and I hope that this means what happened to me won’t happen to anyone else.”
HSE inspector Keith Partington added: “Those who supervise work at height have a responsibility to ensure that it is carried out in a manner which is safe and which guards against the risk of injury from a fall.
“Such injuries, if not fatal, may result in a lifelong disability for the injured person.”