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Fitting firm fined over severe head injury

30 January 2014

A Bedfordshire fitting company has been fined for safety failings after a worker sustained a serious head injury in a preventable fall from a temporary scaffolding platform in Kensington.

Stewart Alazia, 51, from Paddington, London, fractured his skull and left cheekbone, and was left with bleeding to his brain as a result of the incident at Kensington Gate on 21 December 2011.

He has since required regular assessments at a specialist brain injury clinic, and may need indefinite treatment for depression, black outs and headaches linked to his trauma. His employer, D M Specialist Limited, was prosecuted on the 29th January by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified that not enough was done to prevent the fall.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Alazia was working to dismantle boards and other materials from a temporary platform spanning two scaffolding towers. He lost his balance and fell to the ground below, hitting his head and losing consciousness.

HSE found there was nothing in place to prevent or mitigate the fall, such as suitable edge protection or fall arrest equipment. The court was told that had such provisions been in place then the incident could have been avoided. D M Specialist Limited, of Pegasus Mews, Stratton Business Park, Biggleswade, Beds, was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay £7,377 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jack Wilby said: "Mr Alazia sustained a significant head injury in the fall but it could easily have been much worse. "His continued suffering some two years on is another powerful reminder of why work at height has to be properly planned, managed and supervised, with sufficient measures in place to prevent falls. "Guidance is readily available on what provisions should be in place, and it was clear from our investigation that D M Specialist could and should have done more to protect their worker.” Further information on working safely at height can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/falls