A worker who had no recognised training as a scaffolder had to have a lower leg amputated after he fell from unguarded scaffolding, a court has heard.
Andrew Gore, 37, from Mountain Ash, was helping to dismantle the scaffolding outside a nursing home in Merthyr Mawr Road, Bridgend, when he fell around four metres to the ground.
The incident, in June 2013, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted his employers, Mills Scaffold Company Limited, at Bridgend Magistrates today (23 June).
The court heard that the scaffold, erected by Mills Scaffold Company Ltd, was three lifts high and Mr Gore was working on the second lift. Another scaffolder was on the lift above, passing down parts of the scaffold to him, which he, in turn, passed on to a labourer on the ground.
Mr Gore was not wearing a harness and the lift was just two boards wide. The firm had failed to put any guardrails in place. Mr Gore had undone the swivel coupling at the bottom of a brace, which he then inadvertently leaned on. The brace moved and he fell to the ground, causing severe injuries. Since the incident, he has spent most of the last year in hospital and undergone a number of operations.
The incident was only reported to HSE six months later, when he made an insurance claim after he had to have his lower leg amputated because of an infection following the injury. The company was issued with a Prohibition Notice by HSE in 2012 for a similar offence.
HSE’s investigation found that Mr Gore had not been given training in the safe erection or dismantling of scaffolding.
Mills Scaffold Company Ltd of Church Street, Mountain Ash, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Work at Height regulations and Reporting of Injuries Regulations, as the incident was not reported to HSE. The company was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay £1,118 in costs.
HSE Inspector Hayley Healey, speaking after the hearing, said:
“Mr Gore has suffered a great deal of pain and life changing injuries. As a single parent of two young children, one of whom he has custody for, his life has changed dramatically.
“This was a totally needless incident which could have been avoided if Mills Scaffold Company had ensured a safe system of work had been in place. And it was their responsibility to make sure trained workers were used on the scaffolding. There is plenty of industry guidance available about safely dismantling scaffolding.
“If simple methods of work had been followed, levels of competency checked and good supervision in place on site, this work could have been carried out safely. Falls from height remains one of the most common causes of fatalities and major injuries in the construction industry, with more than five incidents every day.”
Further information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/falls
Notes to Editors:
The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
2. Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”
3. Regulation 3(1) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 states: “Any person at work suffers a major injury as a result of an accident arising out of or in connection with work; the responsible person shall (i) forthwith notify the relevant enforcing authority thereof by the quickest practicable means; and (ii) within 15 days send a report thereof to the relevant enforcing authority on a form approved for the purposes of this sub-paragraph, unless within that period he makes a report thereof to the Executive by some other means so approved.
4. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press