TWO construction workers were lucky to be alive after being struck by a length of steel which fell from nine floors up.

Both suffered broken bones in the Bournemouth incident in July 2013 and principal contractor Harbourview Developments Ltd has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive.

Ryan Smith, 31, damaged a vertebrae and had to wear a brace for several months as a result of the incident at Hurn House, right, in Christchurch Road, which was being renovated as student accommodation.

Co-worker Paul Martret, 42, suffered a fractured elbow as a result of the blow from the 1.4metre long piece of steel, which was knocked from a stairwell during work from a temporary platform.

After the case at East Dorset Magistrates Court, Health and Safety Executive inspector Ian Whittles said: “Mr Smith and Mr Martret sustained painful injuries, but both could have been killed by the falling metal, which struck them from height, at speed and without warning.”

The HSE investigation established that the incident took place after work had begun to fit steel sections around the stairwell for the construction of extra floors.

On July 16 a subcontractor placed the piece of steel weighing 5kg on a structural beam running parallel to the temporary work platform in order to step over it.

However he knocked it with his leg, sending it plunging into a gap in the stairwell and towards the workers nine floors below.

Magistrates heard the incident could have been avoided had Harbourview Developments Ltd better managed the temporary works to ensure there was no risk from falling materials.

The company, of Arena Business Park, Poole which is now in liquidation, was fined a token amount of £1 after pleading guilty to breaching a regulation of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Mr Whittles said: “The incident was clearly preventable by using a combination of boarding and debris netting to create a safer working platform where materials or objects couldn’t fall through.

“Working at height remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries. It is a high risk activity that requires careful planning and execution at all times.”