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NEC fined £400,000 after contractor injured

08 December 2020

NATIONAL EXHIBITION Centre Limited was fined £400,000 with costs of £8,864.34 and a £170 victim surcharge having pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

Birmingham City Council brought the prosecution following an incident on 11 January 2019 in Hall 1 of the International Convention Centre (ICC) in the city centre, when a freelance stage manager was struck on the head by a scenery counter-balance weight which had fallen from a high-level stage platform.

The court heard how the worker was assisting in the setup of scenery ropes on the stage for a performance by Chinese dance company Shen Yun, when an 11.5kg weight fell from the platform 11 metres above him. The weight caused a serious head injury leading to extensive life-saving surgery.

The falling weight also hit another person on the stage, who was not seriously hurt.

Health and Safety Inspectors from the council’s Environmental Health team investigated the incident and found that the measures in place on the stage’s fly-platform were inadequate to deal with scenery weights, in particular they should never be stored higher than the toe board to prevent them falling off.

The risk assessment failed to address the risk of scenery weights falling from that side of the platform, if stored higher than the toe board.

The National Exhibition Centre Limited co-operated with this investigation, appointing a contractor to install fencing on the fly platform to ensure the incident could not happen again.

Councillor Philip Davis, chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “This shows what can happen if a business fails to ensure that adequate control measures are in place proportionate to the potential risk of harm.

“Heavy objects falling from height are well known to cause serious or fatal injuries. The council will continue to act where minimum standards of health and safety are not met or flouted.  This was an horrific accident and I hope the injured party makes a full recovery.”