A Glasgow-based company has been fined £120,000 after a man fell through a fragile ceiling into a concrete floor.
Alfa (Wholesale) Limited, a wholesale grocery, catering supply and household goods company, admitted guilt at Glasgow Sheriff Court last week.
The incident saw a 24-year-old warehouse worker fall through a plasterboard ceiling, while retrieving stock from a mezzanine.
He landed on a concrete floor at the bottom of a stairwell, falling more than five metres.
The man sustained life-changing injuries after the incident in November 2017.
He was taken to hospital where he was initially unresponsive and diagnosed as having a skull fracture, bleeding on the brain and other significant injuries.
He has been left with cognitive difficulties, hearing loss, facial palsy and problems tasting food, and the family has been significantly impacted.
The incident was investigated by Glasgow City Council, which found that while the company had a generic risk assessment for a wide variety of activities within the premises, it did not refer to or identify any risks associated with working on or accessing the mezzanine level.
The company had not put any control measures in place for employees working near the plasterboard.
Stock was being stored very close to the plasterboard and employees were regularly called upon to access this area to retrieve stock.
The investigation found that it was incredibly likely that an employee might step on to this unguarded plasterboard.
It found that the incident had happened as a result of the company’s failure to identify the risks of staff accessing the stock items stored near to the plasterboard ceiling on the mezzanine area.
Since the incident, the company has changed its working practices.
Alistair Duncan, head of health and safety division for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said: “This was a foreseeable and avoidable accident resulting in the severe injury and permanent impairment of a young man. It is easy to imagine this having been a fatality.
“Alfa (Wholesale) Limited accepted liability and the Crown accepted their guilty plea to the contraventions of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
“This was an accident that resulted in life-changing injuries that could have been avoided if the appropriate measures had been in place at the time.
“Hopefully this prosecution and the sentence will remind other employers that failure to fulfil their obligations can have serious consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.”