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Scaffolding firm in court after worker injured in fall

Date:
14 March 2014

A scaffolding firm has been fined after a painter and decorator was injured when he fell through an unprotected ladder opening on scaffolding at a block of flats in Hemel Hempstead.

David Currie, 48, a self-employed decorator from Lisson Grove, London, suffered a fractured arm and dislocated shoulder as a result of the incident at Evans Wharf, Aspley Lock, on 6 November 2012.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which today (14 March) prosecuted Beacon Scaffolding for safety failings at Watford Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard that the firm, based in Primrose Hill, north London, had been sub-contracted to erect scaffolding around a four-storey block of flats to allow decorators to repaint windows and woodwork.

Whilst erecting the scaffolding, Beacon’s workers were asked by painting and maintenance sub-contractors to significantly increase the height of the first tier of scaffolding. This alteration required a new layout design; however the scaffolders continued to erect the scaffolding before these designs had been received.

Mr Currie was working on the third level of the scaffolding when he lost his footing and stumbled through an unprotected ladder opening. His outstretched arm fell between ladder rungs and the momentum of his fall caused him to fall to the second level below, dislocating his shoulder and fracturing his arm.

HSE found there were no preventative measures, such as protected ladder traps or guardrails, to prevent a fall from one level to another, and that access ladders between each level were too short and did not provide suitable handholds.

Beacon Scaffolding Ltd, of Gloucester Avenue, London, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,737 costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Rauf Ahmed, said:

“This incident was entirely preventable.

“This case highlights the importance of scaffolding companies arranging ladder access openings between scaffold levels in such a way to prevent falls, and provide ladders of a sufficient length to offer suitable handholds above landing places.

“There are a number of well-known ways of arranging safe ladder access to prevent falls like this, and our investigation found no evidence of these being in use at the scene of the incident. In addition, if there are significant design changes to a scaffold, it is important the new designs are followed.

“Falls from height continue to be the largest cause of fatalities and serious injury.”

More information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulations 26(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: “There shall, so far as is reasonably practicable, be suitable and sufficient safe access to and egress from every place of work and to and from every other place provided for the use of any person while at work, which access and egress shall be properly maintained.”
  3. Further HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk

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