3 Jun 2010

Sign workers injured after scaffold collapse

A County Durham man has been successfully prosecuted after he injured himself and another person when repairing a sign over eight metres from the ground.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Sohail Hussain, 40, trading as Haris Signs based at Seaham, following the incident at the Metro Inn, Stockton on 19 November 2009.

The company had been hired by the manager of the Metro Inn to carry out repairs to a wind-damaged sign above the entrance to the hotel.

Mr Hussain, helped by another man, from Sunderland, erected a 4.5 metres tall scaffolding platform, on top of which was an extension ladder to get high enough to reach the sign, which was 8.62 metres (28 feet) off the ground.

Mr Hussain carried out the repair work from the ladder, while the other man stood on top of the platform with nothing to prevent him from falling off the edge.

Due to high winds and the unstable platform, it gave way, causing both men to fall onto the hotel car park below.

Mr Hussain suffered injuries to his knee and the other man suffered a fractured right wrist and dislocated his right elbow.

Mr Hussain, Dalton Heights, Seaham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations when he appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court today (2 June 2010). He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,000.

After the case, HSE Inspector Jonathan Wills said:

“Both Mr Hussain and the other man are lucky to be alive. The platform erected by Mr Hussain bore no resemblance to the correct standard. This incident was entirely avoidable and should not have happened. Working at height is one of the most obvious and well-known dangers for those involved in the repair or maintenance of buildings.

“Not only was the scaffold unstable due to its height to base ratio, but it also did not include anything to prevent workers falling from its edge, such as guard rails.

“The decision by Mr Hussain to support the ladder on top of the platform was ridiculous and utterly unacceptable. Had he used mobile elevated work equipment, such as a scissor lift, or a tied in scaffold, then this potentially fatal incident could have been avoided.”

More than 4,500 employees suffered serious injury after falling from height last year and 35 were killed. Employers need to plan ahead and assess potential risks before carrying out any work at height. HSE runs a high-profile Shattered Lives campaign that highlights the hazards of slips, trip ands falls in the workplace.

HSE Transcript Source: NE/164/10
(Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

Scaffolding should be inspected by a 'competent person' prior to being used. Good to Go Safety provides a handy checklist for that person to complete and insert his findings into a tag to ensure a clear visual message is present to all potential users informing them if it is found to be 'Good to Go' or 'Do not Use'. This simple but effective working practice helps to prevent accidents such as that highlighted above from happening. Click here to find out more. The video below helps to highlight the needs for pre-use inspections as it shows the dangers of a scaffolding collapse.

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