EDF and one of its largest contractors have been given hefty fines after an employee fell through a skylight and suffered 'life-changing injuries'.

The two companies were ordered to pay a total of £350,000 in fines following the culmination of an investigation into the incident which happened at the Hinkley B site on April 12, 2017.

Dale Smart, 27, was on his first day back from work after paternity leave when the incident happened, and the court heard that a number of errors led to his fall in which he suffered three cracked vertebrae.

A piece of work was due to be carried out to repair the cowling, or cover, on one of the roof fans in one of the gas turbine buildings.

However the court heard EDF had not followed up advice given by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) at a previous inspection at another site to survey all roofs and add signage as falling through fragile surfaces was a significant issue in the industry.

Although EDF implemented this on roofs where there was access, it had not done so on buildings where there was not access, such as the one Mr Smart was working on, the court heard.

Prosecuting on behalf of the ONR, Chris Morris said a series of errors by Dusan Babcock supervisors meant Mr Smart and a fellow worker were actually carrying out the 'wrong work in the wrong place' when the incident happened.

Mr Smart fell through a skylight 1.6 metres onto a cabinet, before falling a further two metres to the floor.

He suffered three cracked vertebrae, which has meant his spine is irreversibly arched and his height shortened.

This in turn means he is more prone to arthritis in later life and takes painkillers daily.

Defending EDF and Doosan Babcock respectively, Dominic Kay and Simon Antrobus said the companies had admitted guilt, co-operated fully with the ONR investigation and both had maintained excellent safety records overall.

Both companies had undertaken 'root and branch' reviews of its safety procedures in regards to employees 'working at height'.

Mr Antrobus read a statement on behalf on Cameron Gilmour, Doosan Babcock director of Nuclear, who said: "Doosan Babcock takes pride in its health and safety and it is a matter of professional embarrassment that this incident has happened.

"We are sorry to Mr Smart, we let him down. He is a valued employee and we have been in talks with him and supporting him in the hope of getting him back to work when he is ready."

Mr Kay issued a similar statement on behalf of EDF expressing remorse for what had happened and saying the company had taken measures to ensure such an incident could not happen again.

Taunton Crown Court was packed with representatives from EDF, Doosan Babcock and the ONR for the hearing which took place on Friday (February 1).

Sentencing, Judge David Ticehurst said although both EDF and Doosan Babcock had robust safety procedures in place, these had not been implemented properly, and as such both companies had failed to meet their statutory obligations regarding workers health and safety.

He sentenced EDF to pay a £200,000, and Doosan Babcock to pay a £150,000 fine.

Following the hearing, Peter Evans, station director at Hinkley B, said: "Firstly, I am very pleased that the person involved in the accident continues to recover.

"We pride ourselves on the safety of our operations; it is at the heart of everything we do.

"However it is clear on this occasion that we failed to live up to our own high standards.

"We fully accept the decision of the court today and we are sorry this incident happened."

A spokesman for the ONR said the accident was a conventional health and safety matter and there was no nuclear safety or radiological risk to workers or the public.

Donald Urquhart, ONR’s deputy chief inspector and director of operating facilities regulation, said: “The level of financial penalty in this case is not a matter on which ONR has a view.

"As an independent regulator, what matters to me is the safety of workers and the public on and around nuclear licensed sites, and this prosecution shows we will take robust regulatory action where necessary to ensure that those that we regulate secure and maintain compliance with the law.

"In addition to these legal proceedings, we issued enforceable improvement notices to both EDF and Doosan Babcock, requiring them to put in place appropriate safety measures to ensure that such risks are properly controlled in the future.

"It is extremely important that lessons are learnt from incidents such as this, and I am pleased to note that both companies have since complied with these notices and have delivered necessary improvements to ensure that such risks are properly controlled."