Scaffolding company used plywood board that was in visibly unstable condition…
A scaffolding firm from Norwich has been prosecuted after a self-employed aircraft painter sustained serious injuries after falling more than two metres because a wooden scaffolding board broke while he was standing on it.
The 37-year-old accident victim from Essex, was in the process of painting an aircraft at an air livery in Southend when the accident occurred on 30 January 2011.
Southend Magistrates’ Court heard that the scaffolding had been erected in the proximity of the aircraft by the Norwich-based scaffolding firm to enable access to it for contracted workers.
The aircraft painter was fortunately only on the first level of this section of scaffolding when he walked onto the wooden board that was unable to sustain his weight and broke leading to his two metre fall to the ground below.
The impact of the fall caused him to suffer serious injuries to his back and knees which prevented him from carrying out everyday tasks including playing with his children for some months after the accident. He suffers with pains in his knees to this day and he has also started to suffer from panic attacks.
The subsequent investigation by the HSE into the accident discovered that the wooden scaffolding board that broke was in a less than ideal condition and that the layers of plywood had already started separate on it – the damaged condition of the board should have been visible to the scaffolding company and it should not have been used as part of the scaffolding according to the HSE investigators.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,500 in costs.
HSE Inspector Corinne Godfrey commented after the hearing:
“This incident was entirely preventable. The damage to the wooden board was clearly visible, it should never have been used and there were alternative metal bridging boards readily available.
“It is well established that the consequences of falling from such a height, of over two metres, can cause serious harm. The injured man was lucky not to have sustained more serious injuries and indeed injured others working beneath him as he fell.”
The HSE report that more than 1,300 falls from working at heights were reported in the UK last year resulting in serious injuries.
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