Paul Welstead, who had been subcontracted from a third company, DRH, was carrying out remedial painting works when he fell around 3 m through a suspended ceiling into a waiting room at East Croydon railway station in south London on 7 January 2015. He has been unable to return to work as an industrial painter.
Croydon Crown Court was told on 18 April that the companies had agreed a £12m contract with Network Rail to undertake the replacement of station floor surfaces, canopy roofs and cladding.
An Office of Rail and Road (ORR) investigation found that principal contractor BAM Nuttall had started work in January 2014. Later that year, McNealy Brown, which had been brought in to carry out steel and cladding work, approached DRH to supply painters for finishing work on the station canopy.
Welstead and colleague Robert Cutter were given a site induction when they arrived for work on 18 December 2014. However, they were not briefed on the risk assessment which required work over the platforms to be undertaken at night, for workers to wear full body harnesses and for the waiting room below to be locked.
When the pair returned to work on 7 January, they were not warned about the fragile roofs. At about 9.40am, while repainting fixings on the station canopy, Welstead lost his footing and fell through the unguarded suspended ceiling on to the room's tiled floor.
Cutter heard a commotion and walked towards where he had last seen his colleague working. He looked down and saw him on the floor with station users next to him.
The court was told that a crash deck had previously been installed above the platform buildings but had to be removed to allow steelwork to be installed in November 2014.
Plywood working platforms were specified to replace the deck above the fragile ceiling but had not been installed in the area where Welstead fell and no barriers had been erected, nor warning signs or tape to warn of the risk of the exposed ceiling.
Previous incidents in which tools had fallen from the work area on to the platform below should have alerted the companies about the work-at-height risk.
BAM Nuttall and McNealy Brown were fined and ordered to pay £7,157 each in costs after pleading guilty to charges under s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. (See table below for how the judge applied the sentencing guidelines.)
How the judge applied the sentencing guidelines
Seriousness of harm risked:
Likelihood of harm:
Size of the organisation:
Very large (BAM Nuttall); small (McNealy Brown)
Fluctuated but exceeded £700m in recent years, except 2016 (BAM Nuttall); over £9m (McNealy Brown)
Starting point for fine:
£1.8m (BAM Nuttall); £150,000 (McNealy Brown)
BAM Nuttall reduced to £900,000 and McNealy Brown reduced to £65,000 for early guilty plea and full co-operation with HSE investigation
£900,000 plus £7,157 costs (BAM Nuttall); £65,000 plus £7,157 costs (McNealy Brown)