Workmen asked to carry out work they were unqualified for…
A construction company based in Lincolnshire has been fined and a site manager employed by the firm has been sentenced to community service work after a self-employed bricklayer died when he fell from dangerous scaffolding at a site in Skegness on 26 February, 2010.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decided to prosecite the company after their investigation uncovered serious safety failings that contributed to the 26-year-old man’s death.
It was found that the scaffolding was built by untrained personnel and had not been put through a safety check to ensure it was in a safe and viable condition for working at heights. Furthermore the site manager should not have asked the accident victim and his colleague to extend the scaffolding platform as neither of the men had experience in erecting scaffolding, instead a specialist scaffolding contractor should have been contacted to complete the task. The two men didn’t receive any training or supervision as they went about their work and because of their inexperience, they ended up erecting a platform that didn’t have any kind of guard in place. The scaffolding they erected was also at a different height to the remainder of the platform and was therefore potentially dangerous and a clear safety risk. However the inspection record shows that the site manager approved the new scaffolding on the day of the accident.
The accident victim was loading bricks when he fell backwards from the unsecured scaffold almost two metres to the ground below, there was no guard rail in place to prevent the fall. His injuries were compounded when the load of bricks he was carrying landed on him, and he died at the scene.
The building firm was fined £40,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Costs are yet to be determined. The site manager was ordered to undertake 240 hours community service after pleading guilty to breaching Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE Principal Inspector Richard Lockwood spoke after the hearing:
“Before entrusting tasks to workers, principal contractors and site managers must ensure they are competent to do the task being given to them.
“There needs to be adequate control over scaffolding to ensure that it is and remains safe and fit for the purpose. “Principal contractors must have robust systems that ensure that their policies and procedures are implemented properly on their sites.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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