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Fall from scaffold leads to fines

Date:
22 May 2015

A property development company, a roofer and a scaffolder have been fined after a worker sustained serious injuries after falling nearly four metres from unsafe scaffolding.

Self-employed roofer Russell Sellars, was installing a roof at Vale Garage on Highbury Road, Bulwell, when fellow roofer Nigel Pleace dislodged a 185kg coping stone on a chimney that struck scaffolding and caused it to collapse.

Mr Sellars broke a number of bones in his neck and had to have 21 stitches to wounds on both legs. He has not returned to work since the incident on 19 October 2010.

The HSE investigation found Mr Sellars had been sub-contracted to carry out the roofing work by Mr Pleace, who was in turn working for 4Brothers Properties Ltd. 4Brothers had also contracted David Williams, trading as Midland Scaffolding, to carry out scaffolding work at the premises.

The scaffolding provided around the building did not conform to any recognised industry standard nor had been the subject of a scaffold design. It also was not properly tied to the building to prevent it coming away from the wall.

HSE also found that Mr Pleace had failed to plan for the roof work to be carried out in a safe manner.

On Friday 22 May 2015, Nottingham Crown Court heard that 4Brothers Properties Ltd had failed to make the appointments required in a project of this scale. No competent management was in control of the site and the company also failed to notify HSE of the work taking place. This was despite the company having previously received written advice from HSE regarding duties relating to health and safety matters during construction work.

4Brothers Properties Ltd, of Wilsthorpe Road, Long Eaton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined a total of £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £80,000.

Nigel Pleace, of Beresford Road, Sawley, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to protect himself and others from risks to their health and safety. He was given a 12 month community order of 100 hours of unpaid work.

David Williams, at the time trading as Midland Scaffolding, of Little Hallam Lane, Ilkeston, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 for failing to provide a safe scaffold. He was given a 12 month community order of 150 hours of unpaid work and fined £5,000 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Lee Greatorex said: “This incident was entirely preventable. The cumulative effect of failings by each of the defendants resulted in this serious accident. It was a matter of chance that Mr Sellars didn’t lose his life.

“4Brothers Properties Ltd had ignored earlier advice from HSE about their duties in relation to carrying out construction work which had been given to them a matter of months prior to this accident.

“The scaffold provided by David Williams was significantly below the expected standard, and had the most blatant errors and omissions in its structure. This not only put workers at risk, but also passing members of the public.

“This case emphasises the need for developers to understand their responsibilities and duties when undertaking construction projects, which includes the appointment of competent contractors. Health and safety on construction sites should be an integral part of the management of the project.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce 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(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
  3. 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.”
  4. Section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It is an offence for a person to fail to discharge a duty to which he is subject by virtue of sections 2 to 7.”
  5. Regulation 8(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Every employer shall ensure that, in the case of a working platform— (i) Part 1 of Schedule 3 is complied with; and (ii) where scaffolding is provided, Part 2 of Schedule 3 is also complied with.”

 

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