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Contractor fined apprentice decorator blinded by PVC hoarding


A Bradford contractor has been fined after an employee suffered significant sight loss in his right eye on a retail refurbishment job.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how Pearl Services UK Ltd had been contracted to carry out refurbishment of a store in Cheetham Hill, Manchester.

On the 23 February 2020 employees were erecting PVC hoarding within the store to separate the refurbishment work area from members of the public.

An apprentice decorator who was helping joiners set up the hoarding, struck one of the PVC panels using a mallet causing it to splinter. A fragment penetrated their right eye, causing serious injury and loss of sight.

The incident has resulted in a life-changing injury to the person who will not regain full sight in his right eye, despite a number of post-accident operations

An HSE investigation found that Pearl Services UK Ltd had failed to suitably plan, manage and monitor the project. Risk assessments and method statements had not fully identified the need to wear safety eyewear during the erection of the hoarding.

In addition to this, the supervisor had failed to ensure that the documentation available on-site was communicated to the operatives before commencing work. Although safety eyewear was available on site, the wearing of it had not been made mandatory, neither were checks carried out to ensure it was worn.

Pearl Services UK Limited of Bradford pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £16,500 and ordered to pay costs of £5,778.40

After the hearing, HSE inspector Phil Redman said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by providing suitable information, instruction, supervision and training to site personnel in respect of the fitting of the PVC site hoarding.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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