A building firm has been fined £3,000 after a contractor suffered multiple injuries when he fell through a guard rail which was not fit for purpose.

Hill Partnerships, of Powdermill Lane in Waltham Abbey, was also ordered to pay costs of £4,501 after it was found to have breached health and safety regulatiions by Cambridge Magistrates yesterday.

David Scanlon, a decorator from Dunstable, suffered two cracked vertabrae and several collapsed discs in his back.

He also sustained head injuries and fractured several ribs, his arm and thumb, as well as snapping tendons on an index finger.

Mr Scanlon had been talking with colleagues on the first floor of a building in Challis Green, Barrington, in January 2012 when he leant on a guard rail on the landing which was unable to support him.

The contractor was in hospital for five days and is yet to return to work.

Gavin Bull, of the Health and Safety Executive, which brought the prosecutions, said: “The end result here is that Mr Scanlon sustained serious injuries that could have been avoided.”

“There are well established design standards for temporary guard-rails that could have been adopted and put in place.