The danger associated with working at height has once again been emphasised by a case in which the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decided to prosecute.
Ian Howells, 33, of Coventry suffered a number of injuries including a punctured lung and broken ribs when he plummeted more than six metres through a hole in the floor. The contract worker had been going about his daily routine when he stepped on what he thought was a pile of wood.
However, he soon tumbled to the ground below, leaving him confined to his bed for two months and unable to work for a year. The incident occurred at Edgbaston cricket ground in Birmingham, where a room on the fifth floor had been undergoing construction.
Mr Howells is still in significant pain as a result of the injuries he suffered in November 2010 and the HSE decided to prosecute Galliford Try Construction, the principal contractor at the construction site, as well as Parkstone Group.
Both companies pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, before each was fined £13,500 and ordered to pay more than £3,300 in costs.
Speaking afterwards, HSE inspector Paul Thompson said: "This incident was entirely preventable. The system of work adopted by Galliford Try and Parkstone Group was unplanned and unsafe. Workers were not provided with a safe means by which to do their jobs, or the right equipment to help them do it."
He went on to explain that the hole in the floor had been covered by the contractors with a polythene-covered pallet. This was designed to keep the rain out, but to workers it was not immediately apparent that a large hole was hidden beneath it.
"As a result, Mr Howells has suffered life-changing injuries that he will never fully recover from," Mr Thompson added.
According to HSE figures, falls from height are the most common cause of workplace deaths in the UK, illustrating just how seriously they must be taken by firms.