13 Apr 2011

Companies fined £400,000 after labourer's fatal fall from scaffolding

Two companies have been fined a total of £400,000 for breaches of health and safety legislation that resulted in the death of a stonemason's labourer at a Glasgow construction site.

James Kelly, a labourer employed by Stirling Stone Ltd, was working on the third level of a loading tower of scaffolding that had been erected as part of construction work taking place at Glasgow Academy, Colebrook Street, Glasgow. Stirling Stone had been contracted as stonemasons on the site by Robertson Construction Central Ltd.

On 26 April 2007, Mr Kelly fell to the ground from the scaffold loading tower platform. He died later from his injuries. A single guard rail was found on the ground close to where Mr Kelly was discovered.

Following the incident, inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that there was no safe system of work in place for loading materials onto the loading tower, nor had suitable assessment of the risks involved been made. The investigation also revealed that the loading tower did not have sufficient guard rails and toe boards and that neither company had ensured that the tower and access scaffolding was properly inspected on a regular basis.

Both companies were found guilty of health and safety breaches at an earlier trial. Today at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Robertson Construction Central Ltd of Perimeter Road, Elgin, Moray, was fined £200,000 for breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc 1974 Act. Stirling Stone Ltd was fined £200,000 for breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

John Shelton, HSE Inspector for Construction, said:

"What happened to Mr Kelly was entirely preventable and would not have happened if the proper steps had been taken.

"Loading up operations at scaffold loading towers are repeated on construction sites across Scotland probably thousands of times a day.

"There is no excuse for the contractors not to have agreed procedures as to how this work was to be done and ensured that this routine work was carried out safely.

"Where vital edge protection is removed temporarily to allow loading up to take place steps must be taken to ensure persons cannot fall during that work."

HSE Bulletin No: SCO/032/11 (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)




Yet another tragic case brought about due to a lack of ownership for site safety; as the inspector states in his summary, this type of work is carried out regularly across the UK and there is simply no excuse for not having a safe system of work (SSOW) in place. Combine this apathy towards safety with scaffolding and working at height and the potential for serious accidents (or in this case fatality) are substantial. The need for a competent person to understand the working of scaffolding and the need for guardrails is further highlighted in this case, as is the need to carry out routine inspections of the scaffolding once erected. 

By carrying out simple inspection procedures such as this it can help identify missing components and with the use of our Good to Go Safety system, allow the quick and easy quarantine of the scaffolding if probems are identified. To find out more about the Good to Go Safety scaffold inspection systems visit our website at www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

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