19 Dec 2012

Cardiff building company fined for ignoring safety risks

A Cardiff building company has been fined for ignoring a safety notice and exposing workers and members of the public to serious risk of injury.

Cardiff Magistrates' Court heard today (18 December) that Rimo Construction Ltd, of St Mellons, allowed unsafe work at height at a house in Rumney in June 2012.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that employees were working from scaffolding around the property, and on the roof, without adequate protection to prevent them from falling.

Part of the scaffolding was removed on 28 June, but they continued working without guard rails until a HSE inspector visited the site the following day after a local resident raised concerns about safety.

Rimo Construction was immediately served with a Prohibition Notice preventing any further work on the scaffold or the roof of the property. However, on 30 June, the following day, neighbours on both sides of the property saw the men continuing to work in exactly the same way.

Adequate edge protection or other precautions should have been in place to prevent workers from falling and injuring themselves or others.

Rimo Construction Ltd, of Vaindre Road, St Mellons, Cardiff, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1), 3(1) and 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Simon Breen said:

"The dangers of working at height without adequate edge protection are very clear, yet companies and individuals continue to take risks and cut corners.

"Rimo Construction was well aware of the precautions it should have been taking, particularly after being served with a Prohibition Notice to stop work on the scaffolds and on the roof. Yet less than 24 hours later the company ignored the risks and the terms of the notice.

"Whilst there were no injuries, the workers could have fallen from the scaffolding or roof into the grounds of the neighbouring houses on either side.

"I hope today's prosecution serves to remind all companies who expect employees to work at height of their legal duties to properly manage safety, and to provide the necessary protection required to safeguard them and others from falls."

 HSE Bulletin No: HSE (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

Christmas is just around the corner, yet it appears that some people are still willing to risk not spending it with their family. The use of unsafe/incomplete scaffolding when working at height runs the very real risk of an employee suffering serious injury or even a fatality. Just a lapse in concentration is enough for someone to step back and disappear over the edge of a scaffold without a guardrail to prevent their fall. It amazes me that anyone would expect work to continue on a scaffold that has already seen it part dismantled and with open edges to fall from. 

Yet again, this story reinforces the need for a competent person and trained employee to inspect the scaffold prior to use and to record his findings. The Good to Go Safety system allows a scaffold to be tagged and the checklist used to identify potential problems. They become an integral part of the safety management system and should not be under-estimated. For more information about our scaffold inspection system please visit our website at www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

18 Dec 2012

Building firm in court over life-threatening injuries

A building firm has appeared in court after a plumber suffered life-threatening injuries in a fall at an outdoor activities centre near Gwynfe in Carmarthenshire.

The 64-year-old man from Llandovery, who has asked not to be named, was working on the refurbishment of an accommodation block at the site when he fell three metres on 15 March this year.

He lost consciousness and suffered a bleed to his brain, a fracture to his cheek bone, bruised ribs and further damage to his existing back condition. He now requires morphine for his back pain and has been unable to return to work.

The principal contractor overseeing the project, Evans Brothers Builders Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the incident.

Carmarthen Magistrates' Court was told today (17 December) that the company had arranged for the scaffolding to be removed from the site before the injured worker had finished fitting new waste pipes to the outside of the building.

He was given a scaffolding tower to use as an alternative way of completing the job, which was found to have been in a dangerous condition. It did not have all of the protective guardrails around the platform to prevent workers falling off the edge and he had to use an unsecured ladder leaning up against the tower to climb on and off it as there was no internal ladder access.

Evans Brothers Builders Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to ensure the work was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out safely.

The company, of Meadows Bridge in Parc Menter, Cross Hands, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,685 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Anne Marie Orrells said:

"The worker sustained life-threatening injuries in the fall and could easily have been killed. His injuries will affect him for the rest of his life.

"If Evans Brothers Builders had planned the project properly then it would have known it needed to keep the scaffolding for a few more days, or provide alternative equipment so that the waste pipes could be fitted safely.

"The scaffolding tower and unsecured ladder it provided was clearly not fit for use and the moment the worker attempted to climb it, his life was put in danger."

HSE Bulletin No: HSE (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

Yet another case of corners being cut to keep costs and timeframes to a minimum. Sound's to me that things overrun and rather than pay extra money to keep the scaffold in situ until work was completed, a cheap quick-fix was decided as an alternative. As ever, as soon as short cuts are made and profit is put before safety, then it is a recipe for disaster. The supply of a scaffold tower with no ladder access or guardrails is negligent beyond belief and as the HSE inspector points out, as soon as someone stepped onto the tower, their life was at risk.

Once again, this case identifies the need for competent person(s) to inspect equipment before use to ensure it is fit for purpose. The us of our Good to Go Safety tag and checklist system for scaffold towers could have helped identify the issues and prevented the accident. For more information on the scaffold tower inspection system visit our website at www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

14 Dec 2012

Fife construction firm fined for dangerous scaffolding

A Fife construction firm has been fined for exposing workers to fall from height risk by using unsafe scaffolding.

Dangerous scaffolding was identified by inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) during an unannounced visit to a site operated by G and G Contracts (Fife) Ltd in Kirk Street, Culross, Fife on 15 April 2010.

Dunfermline Sheriff Court heard today (13 December) that work to construct a single storey house extension had reached the stage where roof tiling, the installation of a skylight and other work to make it wind and watertight remained outstanding.

A scaffold was in the process of being constructed by workers employed by the company. It appeared incomplete when HSE Inspectors arrived and they quickly established that those involved in erecting it were not trained or competent to do so.

The scaffold was also being used by two workers from a plumbing and heating firm sub-contracted by G and G Contracts (Fife) Ltd to install lead flashing.

The HSE Inspectors ordered all work to stop and carried out a full inspection. This revealed a number of deficiencies with the scaffolding, including missing guard rails, bracings and toeboards; and no guarding on a working platform. The ledgers, used to hold the structure together, were also incorrectly placed and an access ladder was not properly secured and did not extend to a sufficient height.

The court was told that the scaffolding failed to provide the required standard of protection.

G and G Contracts (Fife) Ltd was fined £2,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After sentencing, HSE inspector Mike Orr said:

"Falls from height are one of the main causes of fatalities and serious injuries in the workplace, and employers cannot afford to ignore the risks.

"Thankfully no-one was injured as a result of the deficiencies in the scaffolding at this site, which posed a clear danger to those who were required to use it in order to work at height.

"This case should serve as a warning to companies that HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action when workers are unnecessarily put at risk."

In the 12 months to April 2012, 49 workers lost their lives on construction sites in the UK, with falls from height being the most common cause of fatal injuries.

HSE Bulletin No: SCO/015/12 (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)


Amazing that people can think they can safely erect scaffolding without the relevant training/knowledge. Anyone that has ever tried doing so will know it is not as easy as it looks and there is a lot of detailed knowledge needed to erect it safely and to the relevant standard. The need for a competent person to carry out pre-use checks is further vindicated and helps ensure that shoddily built scaffolds will not/can not be used. A clear tagging and checklist system helps ensure that any potential users of the scaffold can see a clearly displayed "Do Not Use" message at all access points to the scaffold.

For details and information about our Good to Go Safety inspection and tagging systems for scaffold please visit our website at www.goodtogosafety.co.uk
26 Nov 2012

Pub chain fined after fall from ladder killed cleaner

A pub chain has been fined £235,000 for health and safety failings which contributed to the death of a cleaner.

Richard Pratley, 65, died from a fractured skull after falling from a ladder as he tried to clean the roof of the "boathouse" inside the Snuff Mill Harvester on Frenchay Park Road.

Bristol Crown Court heard the restaurant's only stepladder was "unfit for service" – too short for the job, damaged, dirty, greasy and rusty.

The manager at the time, Petula Palmer, had asked the popular grandfather to do the job and despite raising concerns to her, he went in early on January 19, 2009, to do it.

As he couldn't reach the top of the roof – about 14ft up – he attached his brush to a mop handle. CCTV showed he stood with one foot on the top rung of the ladder shortly before losing his balance, falling and hitting his head.

Led by health and safety inspector Heather Clarke, the city council began an investigation. Not only were failings found to do with working at height, but other serious issues emerged. An unlocked electrical cupboard was found to have 83 defects, including live exposed wires.

Ms Clarke also found slip hazards in the kitchen when wet, and trip hazards in the outside yard.

Prosecutor Alan Fuller said the Harvester's risk assessments were "inadequate", neither Mr Pratley nor Ms Palmer – who later resigned – had been trained on ladder use and audits had not picked up the hazards in question. There were six slipping accidents between 2007 and 2009.

Mitchells and Butler, which owns 1,600 pubs and restaurants, admitted three health and safety breaches.

Judge Michael Roach said Mr Pratley's fatal fall was "foreseeable" and that his employers had "failed" him. He ordered they pay £65,000 costs.

Mr Pratley had three daughters – Lisa, Sonia and Dawn – and would have been a grandfather of seven.

Lisa, 36, said: "We're pleased that Mitchells and Butlers have been convicted but it still doesn't bring back our dad. We still feel the pain and suffering it has caused – of losing a loved one – especially in such a tragic and unnecessary way. But at least now, hopefully, this will not happen to anyone else in the workplace."

Mr Pratley's partner of 18 years, Janice Scott, 49, said: "Richard loved his work. He didn't want to retire at 65 – the November before he said he wanted to work for one more year.

"I was very angry about him doing that job because he was worried about it. We're glad it's all over now and justice has finally been done."

An M&B spokeswoman said: "This was a tragic accident and we would like to reiterate our condolences to Mr Pratley's family. The safety of our employees and guests remains paramount and following a detailed review of the circumstances of the accident, the company has implemented a comprehensive programme of remedial measures at the premises and across the entire estate."

Source: The Bristol Post

Having read this report in the Bristol Post, the events that led to this death are more than worrying. Even without any training in health & safety, or equipment management, it seems blatantly obvious to anyone that this was an unsafe method of work. The fact that an employee raised his concerns should be enough to raise alarm bells and if someone had taken a look at the ladder and the height that it was intended to reach, then it would soon become obvious that the ladder was unsuitable for the job in hand.

The Good to Go Safety system allows a tag to be attached to each ladder within an organisation. The tag clearly displays a "Do Not Use" message until an inspection of the ladder has been carried out. A checklist gives guidance notes on what the user should be aware of (including oil/grease on treads etc) and the checklist allows them to systematically check components such as rungs, stiles , feet etc. Once the inspection has been completed, the checklist is placed inside the tag and if all was correct than a "Good to Go" message is visible to advise that the ladder has been checked on that date and found to be safe for use. A duplicate copy of the completed checklist is also retained for management records.

It really is a simple but effective tool for both management and employee to implement and use. And it is incidents like the one mentioned above that highlights the importance of having safety systems in place, especially when you consider the low cost, low inconvenience to put these systems in place.
Hopefully employers will read this article and take note. Hopefully, one or two will invest their time to look into their current methods of work and who knows,maybe between us we can save one or two lives in the process.

15 Nov 2012

Ribble Valley firm prosecuted for unsafe scaffolding

The lives of several construction workers were put at risk as they worked on unsafe scaffolding at a farm in the Ribble Valley, a court has heard.
Workers on unsafe scaffolding at a farm in the Ribble Valley
The men were spotted working on a barn conversion in Mellor Brow in Mellor on 13 March 2012 during a series of on-the-spot inspections carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) targeting refurbishment and roof work.

The inspector immediately served a Prohibition Notice ordering the men to come down from the scaffolding and their employer, Bailey Developments (NW) Ltd, was prosecuted today (14 November 2012) for failing to take sufficient measures to prevent workers being injured in a fall.

Accington Magistrates’ Court was told the company had been served with a Prohibition Notice in 2009 for previous unsafe work at height at a construction site in Preston.

During the site visit to the farm in Mellor, workers were seen on scaffolding platforms more than five metres above the ground, but there were numerous missing guard rails, deck boards and toe boards to prevent them falling. The scaffolding was also potentially unstable and there were unsafe ladders leaning against it.

Bailey Developments (NW) Ltd, of Deanfield Drive, Clitheroe, was fined £5,000 after admitting breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was also ordered to pay £2,000 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Anthony Polec said:

"Bailey Developments risked the lives of its employees by failing to ensure the scaffolding they were working on was safe. It was only luck that no one was injured in a fall.

"Work at height is one of the biggest causes of workplace deaths in the UK, with dozens of fatal injuries every year. It’s therefore vital that construction companies do all they can to protect their workers."

The latest figures show that 38 people died as a result of a fall in a workplace in Great Britain in 2010/11, and more than 4,000 suffered a major injury. Information on preventing falls is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls.

HSE Bulletin No: HSEWeb   (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)
Tag displays "Do Not Use" message
It sounds as if there was a real catalogue of errors/dangers on this particular project, with a blatant disregard to employee (and apparently public) safety. The list of issues relating to the scaffold alone are enough to make your jaw drop, before taking into consideration that dangerous ladders were also being used. Yet again, this highlights the importance of having competent workers that have been trained in the safe practices required when working with scaffolding. The use of a tag and checklist system such as Good to Go Safetys' would help identify any problems and advise other (less knowledgeable) workers that the scaffold was not to be used, by inserting the completed checklist with a "Do Not Use" message clearly shown (see image to the left).

Unfortunately, as with most cases like this, health and safety must start at the top in order for it to be taken seriously and the onus is on the owner/managers to instill a positive health & safety culture. If they are willing to cut corners, employee untrained workers and put the safety of others at risk just to save a few shillings then there will always be cases like this being identified. It highlights the need to come down hard on cowboy companies, who are willing to undercut legitimate companies with high standards, to win contracts in tough economic times.

For more information about our scaffold tags and checklist systems visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk
1 Nov 2012

Construction - Latest H&S statistics for 2011/12

The HSE has released the latest Health and Safety Statistics for 2011/12 relating to the Construction industry. The document can be found at: www.hse.gov.uk
Twenty year trend in worker fatalities

There have been significant reductions in the number and rate of injury over the last 20 years or more. Nevertheless, construction remains a high risk industry. Although it accounts for only about 5% of the employees in Britain it still accounts for 22% of fatal injuries to employees and 10% of reported major injuries.

The latest results in construction show:
  • 49 fatal injuries to workers. 23 of these fatalities were to the self-employed. This compares with an average of 59 over the previous five years – including an average of 19 to the self-employed (RIDDOR);
  • Over 5,000 occupational cancer cases are estimated to arise each year as a result of past exposures in the construction sector (Research report 931 “The burden of occupational cancer in Great Britain”);
  • There were an estimated 74,000 total cases and 31,000 new cases of work-related ill health (LFS);
  • An estimated 1.7 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health and a further 0.6 million due to workplace injuries. This equates to 0.87 and 0.34 days per worker. (LFS)
  • The figures also highlight that "Falls" remain the major contributor to worker fatalities (repsonsible for over half of them).

The Chief Inspector of Construction at HSE, Philip White, said:

"Year after year, construction continues to be one of the most dangerous sectors in British industry. Though the numbers are down in the long term, thousands of workers are being seriously injured or made unwell by their work.

"We all need to refocus our efforts and take on the responsibility to ensure the serious risks that continue to cause death and serious injury, are sensibly managed. Many of these incidents are entirely preventable.

"The Olympics showed us that construction can be an example to all other industries when it is properly focused on managing risk and simple steps are put in place to ensure workers' health and safety."

The construction industry sector recorded 2230 major injuries in 2011/12 down from 2307 in 2010/11 and 5391 over-3-day injuries, up from 4813 in 2010/11 to 5391 in 2011/12 (though this is in part due to reclassification of figures), though this figure is still some way down on the five year average. All non fatal injuries saw a seven percent increase from 7120 in 2010/11 to 7621 for 2011/12.

The latest statistics indicate there is still room for improvement in H&S matters within the industry. The need to keep driving fatality and injury rates down remain a priority and, as ever, we hope that our Good to Go Safety systems can go some way to help meet those objectives. 

By ensuring employees carry out pre-use checks of equipment (whether it be scaffolding, ladders, harness or MEWPs) we strive to reduce the risk of equipment failure and potential injury or fatality. The time and cost to carry out routine inspections using Good to Go Safety systems is exceptionally low. Compare it to the cost of an injury or an enforcement notice (figures relating to these are also included in the report) and logic should demand that you invest in the system and, as a result, your employees safety. 

For more information relating to the Good to Go Safety inspection systems visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk
24 Sep 2012

Dodgy scaffold tower leads to life-threatening fall from height

A Merseyside firm has been sentenced after a worker received life-threatening injuries when he fell from scaffolding at a Croxteth sports centre.

The scaffolding tower the worker fell from

The 43-year-old man from West Derby, who has asked not to be named, suffered a brain haemorrhage, fractured skull and collapsed lung in the incident at Croxteth Sports and Wellbeing Centre on 18 January 2011. His injuries also included a broken collar bone, ribs, wrist and fingers.

The worker was in intensive care for two weeks and his brain injury has had a long-term impact on his personality. He has also been unable to return to work as a result of his injuries.

His employer, CME Ceilings Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the scaffolding tower the company provided for the job was unsafe.

Liverpool Magistrates' Court was told today (18 September 2012) that the firm had been hired to install a suspended ceiling at the sports centre on Altcross Road in Croxteth but had made a last-minute change to its plan.

It had originally intended to use a scissor lift to reach the ceiling but did not arrange for the equipment to be delivered to the site, and so used a scaffolding tower instead.

The court heard the brakes on the wheels of the scaffolding tower had not been applied to stop it moving and there was no edge protection, including boards and rails, around the work platform to prevent employees falling off.

The man fell more than two metres to the concrete floor below when the tower started to move across the room as he was working.

The HSE investigation found the scaffolding tower had been made up of parts from several different manufacturers, all of which were in a poor or damaged condition.

CME Ceilings Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of employees. The company, of Domville Road in Broad Green, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Mark Baker said:

"One of CME Ceiling's employees has suffered severe physical and mental injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life.

"The scaffolding tower the company provided simply wasn't up to the job and his life was put in danger the minute he started to climb it.

"This case should act as a warning to firms not to cut corners and to make sure they use the right equipment for the job they're doing."

The latest figures show that 38 people died as a result of a fall in a workplace in Great Britain in 2010/11, and more than 4,000 suffered a major injury.

HSE Bulletin (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

Is it just me or does anyone else get that Groundhog Day feeling? It seems there are more and more reports like this, which tell the story of a serious accident leading to life-changing injuries, down to the use of faulty equipment in the workplace. It is frustrating to read about such incidents, where a simple pre-use check of the equipment and some basic training of employees would have prevented the use of such blatantly dangerous equipment. Even to the untrained eye, a scaffold tower such as that one being used above, should start alarm bells ringing. I hope that anyone using scaffold towers reads this and thinks twice before using an untagged tower. A pre-use inspection may cost a few pennies and minutes, as opposed to injuries and fines. For more information about the Good to Go Safety tagging and checklist systems for scaffold towers please visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

7 Sep 2012

Death of Bradford worker after racking collapse

A Bradford firm has been ordered to pay £140,000 in fines and costs after admitting safety failures that led to the death of a 61 year-old worker who was crushed beneath an unsecured racking system.

The collapsed racking system at George Barker & Co, where Jim Murphy died
Jim Murphy died from head injuries when the 'A' frame metal racking unit, weighing more than a quarter of a tonne, toppled over and pinned him underneath. As he fell his head hit part of another machine just feet away. The overloaded unit had not been bolted or secured in place.

Mr Murphy, of School Green Avenue, Thornton, had worked for refrigeration company George Barker & Co. (Leeds) Ltd for nine years.

The incident at the firm's factory in Highfield Road, Idle, on 1 December 2009, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which uncovered a 'catalogue of errors'.

Bradford Crown Court was told today (6 September) that Mr Murphy had been asked to help dismantle the stacking system so that the area in the premises could be reorganised. He was kneeling on the floor in an aisle removing labels from various parts when the unit next to him toppled. Mr Murphy's head hit a raised part of another machine nearby.

The court heard the racking was not bolted to the floor and other employees had started to use it to shelve components, making it increasingly unstable. HSE found there was no system at the company to safely move or inspect the racking, no indication of its maximum load and no training given to employees.

George Barker & Co (Leeds) Ltd was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs for a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company had admitted the offence at an earlier hearing.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Morag Irwin, who investigated the case, said:

"This was a tragedy that was entirely preventable and was devastating for Mr Murphy's family and, indeed, for the company and what is a close-knit workforce.

"Sadly the case was based on a catalogue of errors on the part of the company. There was no system to manage the racking, no identification of the racks and no inspection regime; no one had properly looked at the risks of the racking system or how to move it and re-install it safely. People joined in and helped out as and when.

"But most importantly there was nothing to identify that the racking was not in use - no warning notice or barrier tape. At some point, workers started to fill it. The more it began to fill, the more dangerous it became.

"I hope this case serves as an important reminder to companies to make sure racking systems are securely fixed and measures are in place to manage them carefully and, in particular, when they are being dismantled.

"George Barker & Co Ltd now has a system in place and has been very responsive to HSE throughout this process."

HSE Bulletin No: Y&H/160/12 (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

I often think that racking is one piece of equipment that is often overlooked by companies when carrying out routine checks of workplace equipment. This case highlights the need to check racking systems regularly. They should have a thorough examination by a competent person on an annual basis but a visual check on a daily or weekly basis would certainly be good practice. This would certainly be the case in areas of racking with high levels of forklift traffic, as the potential for a racking collision can increase significantly and human nature often prevents a driver from reporting his mistake.

Good to Go Safety offer a simple but effective solution - simply attach a tag to the end of each bay and use the racking checklist to carry out a visual inspection of the structure. Checks range from the uprights & baseplates to the loads upon them and the cleanliness of the surrounding area. As ever, the Good to Go Safety system allows the findings to be placed inside the tag for all to see, whilst retaining a copy for management records. For more information visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

6 Sep 2012

Norwich firm fined after aircraft painter injured in fall from scaffold

A Norwich scaffolding firm has been fined after a self-employed aircraft painter was injured after falling more than two metres when a wooden scaffold board broke.

The 37-year-old, from Basildon Essex, who does not wish to be named, was working on an aircraft at the Air Livery, Aviation Way, Southend on Sea, Essex when the incident happened on 30 January 2011.

Southend Magistrates' Court heard today (5th September) that scaffolding had been put up around the aircraft by DSJ Scaffolding Limited to allow access.

The aircraft painter was on the first level of the scaffold arrangement when he walked onto a wooden bridging board which broke, causing him to fall more than two metres to the ground below.

He suffered injuries to his back and knees which prevented him from playing with his children or do normal things for some months afterwards. He still has problems with his knees and two lumps are still present more than a year after the incident. He also suffers from panic attacks.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the condition of the plywood bridging board had deteriorated significantly and the layers had started to separate. The damage was clearly visible at the time the board was placed on the scaffold and it should not have been used.

DSJ Scaffolding Limited, of Staden Park, Trimingham, Norwich, pleaded guilty to of breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,500 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Corinne Godfrey said:

"This incident was entirely preventable. The damage to the wooden board was clearly visible, it should never have been used and there were alternative metal bridging boards readily available.

"It is well established that the consequences of falling from such a height, of over two metres, can cause serious harm. The injured man was lucky not to have sustained more serious injuries and indeed injured others working beneath him as he fell."

Last year (2010-11), more than 1,300 falls from an unspecified height were reported resulting in serious injuries. To learn more about working at height, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/index.htm

HSE Bulletin No: HSE/ESE-95   (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

Another case of a fall from height which could have been avoided with a pre-use check of the equipment being used to carry out the job. Our Good to Go Safety inspection system for scaffolding includes the check for boards which states they should be "In good condition, banded at both ends, not excessively split or warped, no saw cuts, no vehicle tyre marks." The use of a system like Good to Go Safety helps to remove the assumption that equipment is fit for use - "minor faults" can often be spotted before they develop into a life threatening fault, through routine and regular checks such as this. Visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk for more information.

30 Aug 2012

Don't let a dodgy ladder shatter your life

From the beginning of September to the end of November anyone in the UK who buys, uses or has responsibility for supervising the use of ladders, can take advantage of this year's Ladder Exchange.

This is an annual campaign that enables unsafe ladders to be replaced for brand new ones, at a discounted price, at any one of the Ladder Exchange's official partners www.ladderexchange.org.uk

Now run and managed by the Ladder Association, which plans to grow and develop the campaign in future years, the Ladder Exchange has already removed over 10000 broken, bent and damaged ladders from the workplace, with the message: Don't let a dodgy ladder shatter your life.

"Right now is the ideal time for firms to be checking their ladder stocks," says Cameron Clow, Chairman of the Ladder Association. "Dodgy ladders are dangerous and need to be removed from service. The Ladder Exchange provides the perfect incentive to do just that and replace them with safe, brand new ones at a discounted price.

"Falls from height remain the most common cause of death and injury in the workplace, so this campaign has a particularly important role to play in helping to reduce these consistently worrying statistics."

It is important to maintain ladders and stepladders in good working order by carrying out pre-use checks, detailed inspections and routine maintenance. Pre-use checks are intended to quickly establish whether a ladder is safe to use there and then. Detailed inspections, as required by the Work at Height Regulations, are more in-depth and need to be carried out by a competent person.

This year's Ladder Exchange is supported by an impressive line-up of campaign partners across the UK, whose details can be found on the website. It also contains a wealth of information about ladder safety, including free online videos.

Despite a steady decline, falls from height remain the most common kind of workplace fatality. In 2010/11 in the UK a total of 38 workers died and 4,327 employees suffered a major injury as a result of a fall from height in the workplace, with a further 10,232 employees suffering an 'over 3 day' injury. Many of these incidents could have been avoided by people with the right training using the correct equipment that had been properly inspected and maintained.

As ever, Good to Go Safety are delighted to promote and give our backing to this excellent campaign. Our ladder tagging and checklist systems are one of our most popular product ranges and campaigns like this help to emphasise the need for pre-use checks of ladders and the importance of a regular inspection regimes. People often consider a ladder as being a 'basic' piece of workplace equipment which therefore needs little management. I guess when you compare it to something like a forklift truck you can understand this mentality, however when you see some of the ladders being used - with missing feet, damaged rungs etc then you look at the stats involving falls from height - then it hits home the importance of checking your ladder before use. 

The Good to Go Safety system offers a simple but highly effective solution to ladder checks. Once a tag has been attached to the ladder a checklist is completed prior to use and the findings inserted into the tag to clearly display the findings. The tag will either show "Good to Go" or "Do not Use" and the date of inspection. A duplicate copy of the completed checklist is also retained as part of your management records - proving invaluable in the event of an incident.

To order your ladder tag and checklist systems you can visit our digital brochure by clicking on the image below.

8 Aug 2012

Scaffold work under the safety spotlight

Construction sites in the West Midlands, Worcestershire and Warwickshire will be put under the spotlight over the next three weeks as part of a safety drive to reduce the number of workplace deaths and injuries.

Between 2006 and 2011 there were three fatalities and 250 injuries involving fixed or mobile scaffolds in Worcestershire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands. Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will target poor performance on smaller construction and refurbishment sites where scaffolds are in place.

Principal Inspector Jo Anderson, who will be leading the campaign, said:

"Scaffolding still poses a significant risk to those involved in its construction and dismantling as well as those who use it. Too many workers needlessly die because work was not properly planned or the equipment was incorrectly installed or used.

"Over the next three weeks, inspectors will target sites where poor scaffolding is putting workers at risk and when necessary take enforcement action."

HSE inspectors will look at whether jobs that involve working at height have been properly planned to ensure that adequate safety measures are in place and that equipment is correctly installed, inspected, maintained and used.

Further information about safe working in construction, including the use of scaffolds, can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/construction

HSE Bulletin No: HSE/M/103/12 (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)


It's good to hear that the HSE are getting proactive and seeking out dangerous scaffolding before an accident occurs. If you scroll through the blogs below you will find a vast range of examples of bad practice and dangerous working conditions involving scaffolding and construction sites in general. I know that if I was located in one of these three targeted areas, I'd be double checking everything was in good working order on my site to ensure it wasn't served a notice by the HSE. Having work stopped on site can be costly and damaging to the business, it is important that all scaffold comapnies keep their inspection regime up to date and Good to Go Safety can provide the perfect solution to your daily tagging and inspection procedures. For more information visit our website by clicking this link or call us on 01592 655646. Order before 3pm and you will receive your Good to Go Safety scaffold inspection systems the next working day. Don't delay, don't risk the lives of your workforce and don't run the risk of fines or site closure when the HSE come knocking on your door.
16 Jul 2012

Builder fined for dangerous construction site

A Lincolnshire builder has been fined after a spot check by the HSE revealed his construction site was unsafe.
The unsafe construction site at Danesgate in Lincoln

Andre Wilkin, trading as Hillen Projects, was the main contractor on a refurbishment scheme at Danesgate in Lincoln when an HSE inspector visited as part of a national construction safety initiative on 1 March 2011.

A scaffold, which was not being used at the time, was found to have numerous defects and the site itself was very untidy, with numerous slips, trips and fall hazards.

Lincoln Magistrates' Court heard today (11 July) that Mr Wilkin was verbally advised about the three issues on the day of the visit and was sent a letter two days later detailing the actions he needed to take to bring the site up to an adequate standard.
The unsafe scaffolding at Danesgate in Lincoln

A month later, a follow-up inspection was carried out but the defects on the scaffolding, which people were now working on, had not been remedied. A Prohibition Notice was served to prevent further work on the scaffold.

The site was still not organised in a safe manner and the hazards noted during the initial visit were still present. A second Prohibition Notice was served to stop any further construction work until a safe means of access around the site had been established.

Andre Baudouin Wilkin, of Market Place, Caistor, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 27(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and Regulation 4(1) (c) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 for his failings. He was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,800.
Workers on the unsafe construction site at Danesgate in Lincoln

After the hearing, HSE inspector Martin Waring said:

"Mr Wilkin was offered plenty of advice and had the opportunity to rectify the problems that were identified. Instead he chose to continue putting workers at risk.

"It is essential that construction work, particularly work at height and site organisation, is properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions are in place."

HSE Bulletin No: HSE/M/84/12 (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

Another day, another potentially lethal scaffold and another unnecessary fine for a company with an apparent total apathy to employee safety. 

It is staggering to think that despite being advised by an inspector and given recommendations/warnings to rectify the situation, that these suggestions were simply ignored and work carried on regardless. When you see the pictures of scaffolding without guardrails and unstable footing, you have to think how anyone could consider this scaffold as acceptable for working on - even someone with no scaffold experience can see that this structure is unsafe. The fact that noone was injured or killed during the month between first and second site inspections is a blessing in itself but this is undoubtedly more through luck than judgement.

For all I promote the use of a scaffold tag and inspection system, I also have to accept that there will always be some outfits that will never take the time or consideration to introduce safety practices such as this. For every reputable company there are probably one or two others willing to cut corners and endanger lives in the pursuit of saving a few pounds. When you think that the cost of a tagging system such as this can cost around £30 for a year of weekly inspections, and then compare it to the £5k fine handed out for such bad practices, then you have to wonder why they continue to take risks and consider themselves outside of the law.

For more information on our Good to Go Safety range of inspections systems for scaffolding please visit our website at www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

21 Jun 2012

Why should you bother with a pre-use fleet vehicle check?

One of the more recent additions to our Good to Go Safety range was the introduction of a fleet vehicle inspection system. This was designed to encourage drivers to carry out daily checks of their fleet vehicles before they set off on their journeys. Checking of tyres, brake lights, water etc are all included as you'd expect. 

I imagine many don't bother however as they assume that all is the same as it was yesterday and simply jump in the vehicle and head off on their merry way. After all, do we really have the time or patience to spend 5 minutes doing a quick walk around of the vehicle to check for any obvious defects?

Well, having seen the above photo on Facebook recently it made me think again. That quick pre-use check carried out by this particular driver undoubtedly saved a child's life. The image doesn't look like something from the UK and I doubt very much that this is ever likely to happen over here (although I've noticed the odd cat or bird huddled up in there before).

We don't have any immediate intentions to add a "Check for small children" to our checklist system but thankfully we do have a "Check your tyres" which would hopefully make sure you spotted this too.

Obviously the more likely thing you may spot are poor tyre treads, no screenwash, leaking fluids etc. But the finding of these could also save your own life if corrective actions are taken before its too late.

Visit our website at www.goodtogosafety.co.uk for more information on our fleet vehicle inspection systems.

29 May 2012

Death on Dangerous Scaffolding Leads to Fines

A firm, its director and a supervisor have been sentenced for safety failings after a worker died from injuries sustained in a fall from scaffolding at a construction site in East Sussex.

Scaffold over-roof at Washington Avenue, St Leonards on Sea

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Apex Scaffolding (Sussex) Ltd, its director, Michael Walsh, and Leslie Hustwayte, a supervisor, for negligence and defects that contributed towards the incident on 10 August 2009.

Hastings Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday (25 May) that Joseph Murphy, 31, from had been constructing a scaffold over-roof at Washington Avenue in St Leonards on Sea, when he fell.

Precisely how far or why he fell remains unclear, but a HSE investigation identified a number of defects with the scaffolding at the site, including missing hand rails and incomplete scaffold platforms. Evidence of deficient working practices by Mr Hustwayte and a negligent safety culture within the company were also found.

Magistrates were told that Prohibition Notices had previously been served on Apex Scaffolding (Sussex) Ltd and on individual employees for unsafe working practices, but the poor attitude to safety in the organisation continued.
Incomplete scaffold platform
After the hearing, HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said:

"HSE and the scaffolding industry have worked together to produce easy to follow guidance to help contractors ensure their scaffolding is safe. So there is no excuse for compromising safety – as was clearly the case here.

"HSE takes firm action against individuals and contractors who ignore their health and safety obligations. It is essential that contractors and contract managers equip themselves with the necessary information and guidance material and apply it every time a scaffold is built."

Apex Scaffolding (Sussex) Ltd, of Court House, Hooe, Battle; Michael Walsh, of King Edward Avenue, Hastings; and Leslie Hustwayte, of Asten Close, St Leonards on Sea, all pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) and Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 in relation to the safety failings.

Mr Hustwayte also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 14(2) of the same legislation.

The company was fined a total of £3,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs for its failings, Michael Walsh was fined £1,500 with £2,500 in costs and Leslie Hustwayte was fined £2,000 with costs of £2,500.

Further information on safe working practices and procedures in construction can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/construction. The section includes a comprehensive scaffolding checklist - see http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/scaffoldinginfo.htm for details

HSE Bulletin No: SE/101/12 (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

Another unnecessary death on a construction site, due to inadequate safety checks. The fines seem lenient for such a costly loss of life, especially when considering that prohibition notices had been issued to the company previously. 

As ever, we applaud the HSE and their attempts to police an industry that seems to be cutting corners with health and safety in order to save money in a tough economic environment. The cost to train a few guys and provide them with tagging and checklists is however miniscule in comparison to the loss of a life and the subsequent fines. It staggers me that companies continue to ignore basic safety standards, such as completing a pre-use check of the scaffolding. Even more amazing is that people simply don't seem to care, continuing to bury their head in the sand when it comes to 'red tape' H&S.

You can find details of our scaffold tagging and inspection systems at www.goodtogosafety.co.uk Please take the necessary precautions and invest in a tagging and inspection system today. You could be saving someone's life by doing so.
30 Apr 2012

Construction firm fined for ignoring safety warnings

A construction company has been fined for continuing unsafe working practices at a site in Upper Norwood, Croydon, after repeatedly ignoring safety warnings.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified multiple failings at a project on Sylvan Hill run by Unicorn Services Limited, where the Kent-based firm was building a four-storey block of flats.
Dangerous systems and procedures for working at height at Sylvan Hill

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard yesterday (25 April) that on 26 September 2011 a HSE inspector served eight Prohibition Notices to stop dangerous practices at the site after identifying serious safety breaches.

The Notices covered dangerous scaffolding, people working unsafely at height, fire-related hazards and dangerous electrical equipment.

Unicorn also supplied "appallingly inadequate" documentation for risk assessments and project management.

HSE returned to the construction site in October and discovered little or no improvement had been made to many of the illegal practices.

An Improvement Notice was subsequently served requiring the site manager to arrange adequate training in order to safely manage construction operations. However, the manager in question failed to meet a compliance date of late November.

Unicorn Services Limited, of Montpellier Avenue, Bexley, was found guilty of breaching Regulation 26(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for its poor site management and failure to adhere to enforcement action. The company was fined £20,000 and was also ordered to pay £5,940 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said:
Dangerous systems and procedures for working at height at Sylvan Hill

"Unicorn Services Limited blatantly ignored enforcement notices and continued to neglect its duty of care to its workforce, most of whom were vulnerable migrant workers.

"The construction site at Sylvan Hill was a potential death trap, with scant regard for safety or employee welfare. Even though there were no reported incidents at the site, serious safety breaches were routinely committed that could have resulted in death or serious injury.

"The work was underpinned by poor management and appallingly inadequate paperwork - total recklessness according to the court. General standards fell well below those expected of a competent principal contractor, which the Health and Safety Executive will simply not tolerate."

HSE Bulletin No: LON/75/12 (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

Another damning example of how to totally ignore the safety of employees while working at height. The lack of care and blatant flaunting of health & safety rules and regulations is shocking to say the least.

As you know, Good to Go Safety developed a range of inspection and tagging systems for equipment including scaffolding and ladders (amongst others). Designed to improve safe systems of work by carrying out informed checks prior to using the equipment, they have proven to be essential management tools. Unfortunately, such systems need to be embraced by the company (we cannot force companies to install safety measures like Good to Go Safety) and the fact that some companies simply cannot see (or more worryingly still, do not care about) the dangers their employees encounter, ensure the need for HSE inspections to try and save a life before the inevitable accident occurs.

When you look at the image of the "ladder" above it is easy to laugh at such a ramshackled affair, though the risks of using such a dodgy piece of equipment are no laughing matter. I'm not sure where we would start in terms of attaching a tag and carrying out a checklist on this particular ladder - I don't think I could conjure up a worse example.

It is sheer good fortune that noone was injured or killed on this particular site and we can only hope that the company will finally get the message as a result of the fine, that H&S is not an option that can be ignored. 

For more information on the Good to Go Safety range of inspection systems for ladders and scaffolding (amongst others) please visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk
16 Apr 2012

Keep up to date with Good to Go Safety News

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Visit us on Stand I81 alongside Caledonia Signs from 15th - 17th May 2012.
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