15 Nov 2012

Ribble Valley firm prosecuted for unsafe scaffolding

The lives of several construction workers were put at risk as they worked on unsafe scaffolding at a farm in the Ribble Valley, a court has heard.
Workers on unsafe scaffolding at a farm in the Ribble Valley
The men were spotted working on a barn conversion in Mellor Brow in Mellor on 13 March 2012 during a series of on-the-spot inspections carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) targeting refurbishment and roof work.

The inspector immediately served a Prohibition Notice ordering the men to come down from the scaffolding and their employer, Bailey Developments (NW) Ltd, was prosecuted today (14 November 2012) for failing to take sufficient measures to prevent workers being injured in a fall.

Accington Magistrates’ Court was told the company had been served with a Prohibition Notice in 2009 for previous unsafe work at height at a construction site in Preston.

During the site visit to the farm in Mellor, workers were seen on scaffolding platforms more than five metres above the ground, but there were numerous missing guard rails, deck boards and toe boards to prevent them falling. The scaffolding was also potentially unstable and there were unsafe ladders leaning against it.

Bailey Developments (NW) Ltd, of Deanfield Drive, Clitheroe, was fined £5,000 after admitting breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was also ordered to pay £2,000 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Anthony Polec said:

"Bailey Developments risked the lives of its employees by failing to ensure the scaffolding they were working on was safe. It was only luck that no one was injured in a fall.

"Work at height is one of the biggest causes of workplace deaths in the UK, with dozens of fatal injuries every year. It’s therefore vital that construction companies do all they can to protect their workers."

The latest figures show that 38 people died as a result of a fall in a workplace in Great Britain in 2010/11, and more than 4,000 suffered a major injury. Information on preventing falls is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls.

HSE Bulletin No: HSEWeb   (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)
Tag displays "Do Not Use" message
It sounds as if there was a real catalogue of errors/dangers on this particular project, with a blatant disregard to employee (and apparently public) safety. The list of issues relating to the scaffold alone are enough to make your jaw drop, before taking into consideration that dangerous ladders were also being used. Yet again, this highlights the importance of having competent workers that have been trained in the safe practices required when working with scaffolding. The use of a tag and checklist system such as Good to Go Safetys' would help identify any problems and advise other (less knowledgeable) workers that the scaffold was not to be used, by inserting the completed checklist with a "Do Not Use" message clearly shown (see image to the left).

Unfortunately, as with most cases like this, health and safety must start at the top in order for it to be taken seriously and the onus is on the owner/managers to instill a positive health & safety culture. If they are willing to cut corners, employee untrained workers and put the safety of others at risk just to save a few shillings then there will always be cases like this being identified. It highlights the need to come down hard on cowboy companies, who are willing to undercut legitimate companies with high standards, to win contracts in tough economic times.

For more information about our scaffold tags and checklist systems visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

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