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Dangerous scaffold costs Portsmouth firm owner

Date:
7 January 2015

The owner of a small construction firm in Portsmouth has been fined after he erected a series of scaffolds in and around the town over several months in late 2013 that were riddled with dangerous faults.

Graham Pedaltey, trading as Graham’s Scaffolds, put workers lives at risk by putting up scaffolds several metres high for them to work on but with potentially lethal defects that could have seen builders fall from unguarded platforms or through rotting wooden planks.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Mr Pedalty (6 Jan) at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court for safety breaches after investigating a particularly hazardous scaffold that he was responsible for in North End Avenue last year. HSE attended as a result of a complaint made by a member of the public.

The court heard that the scaffold, erected on 18 October, had numerous faults:

• It was not tied to the building so was insecure and more liable to collapse
• It lacked baseplates on many uprights, meaning that the scaffold could have sunk into the ground or ‘punched through’ any drains or cavities it was erected on
• There were few, if any, guardrails on the lifts – or working platforms – to prevent falls from height
• There was no bracing on the middle scaffold on the middle working platform giving rise to serious stability issues
• Many of the boards were rotten and damaged and could have broken under workers’ feet, sending them falling to the ground below.

Despite remedial work requested by HSE being carried out on the scaffold by Mr Pedaltey, there were still defects.

The court was told that Mr Pedaltey had received previous advice from HSE on poor scaffolding twice during the previous month of September 2013.

Graham Pedaltey, trading as Graham’s Scaffolds, of Queens Road, Portsmouth, was fined a total of £1,600 and ordered to pay £600 in costs after admitting breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Work at Height Regulations.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Snelgrove said:

“Mr Pedaltey not only erected numerous unsafe scaffolds, but also relied on his knowledge from training delivered in 1979 – more than 30 years earlier. He has now been prohibited from erecting scaffolds until he has completed further training to acquaint himself with up-to-date safety legislation and scaffolding standards.

“His failings created a risk of death or serious personal injury. Scaffolds are temporary structures and their integrity and safety must be ensured to, in turn, safeguard the workers and passers-by.”

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. Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every self-employed person to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
  3. Regulation 5 of the Work at Height Regulations 1995 states: “Every employer shall ensure that no person engages in any activity, including organisation, planning and supervision, in relation to work at height or work equipment for use in such work unless he is competent to do so or, if being trained, is being supervised by a competent person.”

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