5 Jul 2011

Poole builders fined after scaffold fall

A Poole construction company has been sentenced after a carpenter was seriously injured when he fell three metres off scaffolding while working on a house extension.

Michael McCarthy, 60, from Verwood, was contracted by P O Sharps Landscapes Ltd to construct the roof of the extension at a property in Radipole Road in the town.

The extension was being built above an existing garage which protruded out beyond the face of the main building causing a step in the scaffold at roof level of the garage.

On 20 September 2008, Mr McCarthy descended the ladder and stepped backwards over the open edge, falling three metres and fracturing his spine and ankles.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting at Bournemouth Magistrates' Court, found the platform had no guardrails, and a ladder used to access the working platform above was positioned outward, forcing anybody using the ladder to stand backward at the unguarded edge.

P O Sharps Landscapes pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,000.

After the hearing HSE inspector Frank Flannery commented:

"Falls from height can cause significant and life-changing injuries and duty holders must take steps to prevent falls wherever possible.

"Mr McCarthy's injuries are serious and permanent: he has a steel rod in his back, steel pins in his right ankle, and left foot/heel. He suffers with chronic pain and has no prospect of working again. This incident could easily have been prevented by erecting guardrails along the platform."

In 2008/2009 more than 4,000 major injuries were caused by falls from height at work. 

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

The reasons for this accident appear to be that the platform had no guardrails, and a ladder used to access the working platform above was positioned outward - both fairly obvious and easily spotted issues for a competent user. A pre-use inspection, using the Good to Go Safety checklist would help identify the missing guardrails and possibly prevented the workers from accessing the scaffold until corrective actions had been carried out. This story further emphasises the need for employees to be trained in the correct use of equipment in the workplace and the need to have management systems in place to ensure pre-use checks are carried out on the equipment. For more information on the Good to Go Safety system for scaffolding please visit our website at www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

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