28 Apr 2011

£3,000 fine following fatal Bristol scaffold fall

The owner of a Bristol scaffolding company has been fined after the death of one of its employees who fell from a temporary roof he was dismantling.

Shaun Stevens, 41, fell about four metres while deconstructing a temporary corrugated sheet roof at Flooks Scaffolding at the Old Brains Factory, Bridge Road, Kingswood, Bristol, on 4 October 2006.

Mr Stevens from Bristol suffered serious head injuries as a result of his fall and was taken to hospital, where he died 12 days later.

Russell Lee Flook, trading as Flooks Scaffolding, of Tower Lane, Warmley, Bristol, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). He pleaded guilty at Bristol Crown Court to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The offences related to poor health and safety management practices, and an attempt to fake a method statement for the work. Inspectors asked for this key safety plan following the fall - but were given a document written the day after the incident.

Mr Flook was fined a total of £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector, Sue Adsett, said:

"Corrugated tin temporary roofs are inherently dangerous to erect and dismantle. Employers need to reconsider how they do this work and not just repeat how they have done it in the past. There are now safer ways of working to be considered, using different materials and technologies.

"All employers have a duty to protect their employees and contractors. It is up to the scaffolding employer to make sure there is a safe system of work for erecting and dismantling temporary roofs and not leave the arrangements to workers.

"The law has changed over recent years with the introduction of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR), and employers need to make sure that they are fully aware of their duties."

Mr Steven's wife, Tanya Stevens, said after the case: "Shaun's death has left a huge void in our family: our daughters have no father to support them through life, and he is missing seeing our grand daughter grow up.

"Four and a half years on, we all still feel the loss of Shaun every day. He was a good father and husband and it has been hard for us all. We have struggled to cope with our grief at times and, as well as missing him greatly, I have had to deal with the emotional and financial strain of bringing up the girls single-handedly.

"I hope that Russell Flook has learnt from this and takes health and safety seriously on site, making sure his workers wear harnesses and work safely, so that no one else has to experience what we have gone through."

HSE Bulletin No: 766/SWW/11 (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

The use of the correct equipment when working at height is of paramount importance to reduce risks to the absolute minimal level. A detailed and considered method statement will provide a critical element of completing the work safely and efficiently. It is both frustrating and annoying to see some firms continuing to cut corners and put the lives of their employees at risk in return for saving some money. 

Good to Go Safety have a firm belief in giving employers the chance to implement an easy and affordable solution to their equipment checks - providing them with a comprehensive audit trail of all inspections undertaken. For more information about these SEMS (safe equipment management systems) please visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk where you will find off-the-shelf systems for equipment including scaffolding, ladders, harnesses, MEWPs, forklifts and more.

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