Three companies have been fined a total of £420,000 after a slate roof tile fell five metres before striking a three-year-old girl, fracturing her skull.
The slate came off a roof at a construction site at the Moonfleet Manor hotel in Weymouth, Dorset, and struck the young girl on 13 June 2019.
She had been leaving the hotel with her father and older brother after attending a swimming lesson when the incident occurred. The pre-schooler received first aid and was later taken to hospital where she was put into an induced coma to stabilise her. She then underwent a two-hour operation to remove fragments of slate from her head.
Rocare Building Services Limited were removing old tiles and replacing them with new slates which had been stacked around the roof, leading to one piece falling off.
The project’s principal designers Quadra Built Environmental Consultancy Limited were in charge of planning, managing and monitoring the pre-construction phase. The company failed in the planning and design stage to properly assess the risks of objects falling from height and hitting people.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into this incident found that scaffolding was not fit for purpose because it did not have sufficient measures to prevent items falling such as protective fans, covered walkways or, at a minimum, brick guards around the entire perimeter.
Moonfleet Manor ignored requests and failed to put in measures to address an obvious hazard of falling objects and was more concerned about putting convenience of the guests and preventing the hotel from looking like a building site than the safety of their guests, the judge found.
On 24 October 2023, Rocare Building Services pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and Regulation 10 (1) of Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,554.78.
Quadra Built Environmental Consultancy was found guilty of breaching Regulation 10(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 in costs.
LFH (Moonfleet Manor) Limited was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £143,482.04 in costs.
HSE inspector Nicole Buchanan said: “This incident has caused significant injuries and extreme distress to a child and her family; and could have been fatal.
“Clients and construction companies must always remember their legal duty to keep both workers and members of the public safe. The client, principal designer and principal contractor all have a duty to work together to implement the industry standards to ensure members of the public are safe particularly if a venue is to remain live.”