A worker was paralysed after falling down a stairwell at Vicarage Road stadium when the concrete floor he was working on collapsed.

Ashley Grealish was helping construct a new hospitality and seating stand at Watford’s home stadium when the incident occurred on June 14, 2016.

Peterborough Magistrates’ Court heard the concrete floor and associated formwork collapsed, causing several workers to fall.

Whilst most were able to cling to the structure to escape serious injury, Mr Grealish fell approximately 11 metres down the mouth of a stairwell to the basement below.

He suffered multiple injuries including spinal damage, which caused permanent paralysis from the waist down. 

ECS Groundwork Ltd of Warren Farm, Colney Heath, St Albans pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 19 (1), 19(2) and 19(3) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photo: HSEPhoto: HSE

An investigation by Health & Safety Executive (HSE), Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, found that ECS Groundwork’s temporary works management system was lacking. 

It found the contractor should have had a suitable design for the temporary works, which are part of a construction project needed to enable the permanent structure to be built, taking proper account of the vertical load and the need for horizontal stability.

The investigation also found there should have been a robust system to check the temporary works were properly installed and thoroughly assessed before starting to load it with the wet concrete to form the floor slab. 

The company was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,505.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Rauf Ahmed said: “The injuries suffered by Mr Grealish are life changing and the incident could easily have been fatal.

"This serious incident and devastation could have been avoided if the company had planned a safe system of work to prevent the support system used to cast the concrete floor from collapsing.”

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