Problems with precautions must be weighed against risk
Garden Affairs Ltd has been fined after a workman suffered serious injuries when he fell from the roof of a summer-house he was erecting in Christchurch, Dorset.
On the 30th April Bournemouth Magistrates heard that the 25-year-old employee was constructing the large wooden summer-house in a private garden with two other employees.
The employee stepped on to a tower scaffold from the roof and fell when the scaffold slid on wet decking and fell from the decking edge. The injuries sustained were fractures to the vertebrae in the lower back, bruising and impact injuries to his left hip, pelvis, back and right elbow which lead to being out of work for over a month.
HSE investigators found that the company had failed to take measures to prevent the fall. It was found that handrails were not fitted to the tower scaffolds being used and the scaffolds were not fixed to the structure for stability.
Poor handling of tower scaffolds
Garden Affairs Ltd, Frome Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, was fined £5,000, ordered to pay £468 in costs and £750 in compensation after admitting a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector James Powell said:
“The Work at Height Regulations do not distinguish between low and high falls, so for any work at height, whether two metres or ten, precautions are required to prevent or minimise the risk of injury from a fall.
Garden Affairs Ltd failed to properly assess the risk and plan the job accordingly. Garden buildings and summer-house are erected very quickly, often one to three days, and there can be difficulties in providing edge protection due to restrictions such as site boundaries for example.
However, falls are the biggest cause of death in the construction industry, accounting for 23 fatalities last year (April 2012- March 2013). Employers need to ensure that the risks of falling from height are identified and managed.
Poor handling of tower scaffolds also causes a number of injuries and deaths. In this instance, they were not secure and safety features were missing, rendering them unsafe.”