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.

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