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
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