Scaffolding company fined after apprentice seriously injured at construction site…
A construction firm in Halesowen has been prosecuted after a teenage apprentic broke his back after falling more than three metres at a site in Worcestershire on 6 November 2011.
The accident occurred after the company had been asked to return to the site to make some modifications to the scaffolding they had erected a few months earlier. The teenage apprentice who had been hired just five weeks prior to the accident was in the process if making some of the requested alterations when he fell and broke two vertebrae in his back. As a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident he was in a back brace for three months.
The subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation discovered that the young man was unsupervised at the time of the accident despite his inexperience. He was also working in an area with no fall prevention facilities thereby being at a significantly increased risk of falling. The HSE concluded that the work had not been planned, supervised or carried out according to the safety protocols expected for working at heights and the company had not even followed the recommendations laid out in their own risk assessment.
The scaffolding firm pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £10,000 in addition to costs of £6,156.
HSE inspector Luke Messengercommented after the verdict had been delivered:
“This was an avoidable incident and a young man was fortunate not to suffer more serious life-changing or even fatal injuries.
“Work at height is the biggest single cause of fatal and serious injury in the construction industry, and for scaffolding companies working at height on a daily basis the controls required should be second nature. There is a wealth of guidance available, from HSE and the industry, and there is really no excuse for not following basic precautions such as working from a safe area or using a harness.
“In this case the company fell well below accepted standards and a trainee scaffolder was badly injured as a result. It was lucky his career wasn’t ended before it had properly begun.
“This case should serve as a reminder to all those involved in work at height of the need to ensure that their work is properly planned and carried out safely. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff have the right equipment, that safe operating procedures are in place and that persons carrying out work at height have the right training and supervision. “
The HSE report that 40 workers lost their lives with more than 3,400 being seriously injured in accidents associated with working at heights in 2011/12.
Author: Julian Roberts
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