A BUILDING firm was ordered to pay more than £400,000 after a carpenter plunged to his death when a temporary platform collapsed during a £25m project.

Father of three Justinas Kopickas, 42, died after crashing 52 feet down a stairwell after a stand had given way during construction work.

Steelworker Terry Cooper, 46, was also on the platform and sustained ‘life-transforming injuries’ in the fall on October 29, 2012, while a third worker, Nirmal Singh, was struck and seriously injured by falling debris.

The three men and other workers contracted for the project by engineering firm Mitchellson Formwork, based in Horton, Berks, faced a “high likelihood of harm” because of the “improper use of joist flanges which led to the collapse of the platform”, a judge ruled.

The company admitted a single charge of breaching health and safety law and was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay nearly £15,000 in costs.

The judge sitting at Southwark Crown Court heard how Mr Kopickas fell to his death while working at a building site in Putney. He was told there was no design for the unsafe temporary platform and no risk assessment.

Mr Kopickas was stood on the platform when it suddenly gave way and set him tumbling down a stairwell to his death.

“Those two facts are remarkable in themselves,” said Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith. “Falls from height are responsible for 50 per cent of all deaths on building sites.”

Mitchellson Formwork, of Mitchellson House, Horton Trading Estate, Horton, Slough, was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay £14,935.54 costs after admitting one count of breaching a health and safety duty.

The judge said the firm’s board had come to a “dignified acceptance of responsibility” after the death.

However, the principal contractor which commissioned the work, Surrey firm St James Group, was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay the same amount in costs after it failed to “plan, manager and monitor” the work, according to the charge.

Mitchellson Formwork was told it must pay its fine by November 30 2017.

Karen Morris, HM Inspector of Health & Safety, added: “The risks of falling from height are well-known, and the risk of joist hanger failure is well-documented.

“This tragic incident illustrates what can happen if temporary works are not properly organised. All those who have a role in planning and managing work on site must take responsibility for ensuring that serious risks are properly controlled.”