Richard O’Connor who was just 18 at the time of the accident in February 2010 was working for Roberts and Prowse (Swindon) Ltd at The Platform Youth Centre on Farringdon Road in Swindon.

Whilst working in a loft space on a narrow timber walkway Mr O’Connor stumbled and fell onto an exposed plasterboard ceiling. The ceiling gave way under his weight and although he managed to grab onto a timber joist, the joist collapsed after only a few seconds and he plunged 5.5 metres onto the floor below.

Mr O’Connor sustained three fractures to his vertebrae along with cuts and bruising.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told Swindon Magistrates that the firm had failed to carry out a specific risk assessment and failed to implement measures to reduce the risk of falls.

Roberts and Prowse (Swindon) Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £5,156 in costs.

James Davies, solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Serious Injuries Team said: “Working at height is statistically one of the most likely to lead to an accident, it is in many ways self evident. Employers need to consider the risks and put measures in place to prevent falls. Mr O’Connor was clearly working in a confined space without suitable platforms and sadly his was an accident waiting to happen.”