A Kent renovation specialist has been fined after an unsupervised labourer fell more than four metres from a poorly constructed scaffold tower. He had been stripping out a basement gym in central London, Farringdon.
The Romanian national, who does not want to be named, fractured two vertebrae and five broken ribs in the fall on the 19th April 2011.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that he was part of a crew of labourers working for Swanley-based MJM Fitout Ltd to remove ventilation ducting from a two-storey gym in the basement.
A scaffold tower was erected to support the work and was being used by the victim to access ducting from a ceiling. The tower was knocked over as he worked at height and both he and the tower crashed 4.5 metres to the floor below.
An HSE investigation found that none of the temporary labourers were competent enough to erect a scaffold tower and that it was constructed without adequate supervision.
MJM Fitout of Swanley, Kent, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £3,500 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the CDM regulations.
After the hearing HSE, Inspector Keith Levart said: “The worker suffered painful injuries that could have been avoided had the labour crew been properly managed and had their work on site been adequately monitored by MJM Fitout Ltd.”
“The temporary staff had effectively been left to their own devices and were working in an unplanned and unsafe manner.”
“It illustrates the clear need for companies to have practical arrangements in place to ensure that all personnel involved in and undertaking construction work understand what is expected of them, and are able to co-operate and communicate with one another.”
“Work at height from scaffolds poses clear risks and should only ever be undertaken by competent personnel with the right equipment, knowledge and experience.”
Source: Construction Enquirer
LST Comment: All working at height must be planned and risk assessed by competent persons. Furthermore, both the staff that conduct the work and those supervising them should also be competent. The theme here is competency, i.e persons that have the correct level of knowledge to conduct the work, an appropriate level of ability on the day to conduct the work and the correct level of training and experience to do so. This should all be coupled with the an appropriate level of currency (with in date certificates where required) and access to suitable and serviceable work equipment. Cut corners on any of the above and expect to fail.