FINES totalling £46,000 have been imposed on two construction site companies over health and safety breaches that led to a workman falling from poorly-erected decking.

The self-employed bricklayer fell through the platform on the housing site like a “trap-door”, Durham Crown Court was told.

Although the fall was only about two metres, the builder was rendered unconscious, in the accident at the Marley Fields site, in Wheatley Hill, on July 1, 2019.

Lee Fish, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, said on coming around he was treated for pain and bruising to his head and chest, which left him suffering from a migraine.

Mr Fish said investigations revealed the decking had not been erected appropriately.

Thirty pins which secure supports were missing as were three legs which should have supported the middle of the platform.

“It meant the decking effectively operated like a trap-door when he stood on it.

“What emerged was the practice of untrained people erecting the scaffolding for about a year and not being supervised or inspected by anyone.”

Before the court were principal site contractor Dere Street Homes Ltd, of Cornsay Colliery, County Durham, and sub-contractor, SGS Construction and Design Ltd, a joinery company of Consett.

Both admitted a charge of being an employer failing to discharge a general health, safety and welfare duty to employees.

The court heard both companies have no previous convictions to their names.

Harry Vann, for Dere Street Homes, expressed, “heartfelt remorse and regret” over the accident, accepting it, “fell short of standards” in this case, but said there was only a 0.3-per cent chance of a fatality and this was the first such incident of its type.

Mr Vann added that the award-winning company took immediate steps to rectify the problem.

Tom Gent, for SGS Construction, also apologised and expressed the company’s “remorse and shame”.

He described it as, “an isolated failing”, adding that there was, “no previous warning” raised to suggest there had been a problem.

Fining Dere Street Homes £38,000, with £5,367 costs, and SGS £8,000, with £2,683 costs, Judge Ray Singh said it was, “only good fortune” that the victim did not suffer substantial long-term injuries in this case.