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CONTRACTOR PROSECUTED FOR UNSAFE SCAFFOLDING

Seriously injured workman took safety of scaffolding ‘for granted’

Ian Allan Building Contractors Ltd has been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries when he fell from unsafe scaffolding in Murton, County Durham on 1 May 2009.

Kevin Clark, aged 54, from Gateshead, was working on the windows of a new building when the scaffold platform he was standing on became dislodged and he fell more than 4m causing crushing his vertebrae and fracturing his foot. HSE investigators found the company allowed workers to use unsafe scaffolding and failed to:

  • control alterations to the scaffolding;
  • conduct inspections of the scaffold at least every seven days; and 
  • identify and correct unsafe alterations.

After sentencing, Mr Clark said:

“I took it for granted the scaffolding I was working on was safe. If it had been checked properly the incident never would have happened and I wouldn’t be left with the injuries I have to live with now.

I’ve had steel rods put in my spine, I’m in constant pain and it restricts my movement and makes walking really difficult. I’ll probably never be able to do the job I did again.

I hope this prosecution helps make other employers realise the importance of ensuring scaffolding is safe so other workers don’t have to suffer as I have.”

Scaffolding must be properly managed

Ian Allan Building Contractors Ltd, of Jesmond Road, Jesmond, Newcastle, pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,500 at Consett Magistrates’ Court.

After the case, HSE Construction Inspector Andrea Robbins said:

“This incident could and should have been prevented. Ian Allan Building Contractors Ltd failed in their legal duty to ensure the safety of its employees by failing to manage the scaffolding on site adequately.

As a result of these failures, Mr Clark has suffered serious injuries and is still living with the effects of those injuries more than a year and a half later.

Scaffolding is widely used as a temporary working platform or means of access and this incident clearly illustrates the absolute need to ensure that it is safe.

I’d like to stress to all companies and employees who use scaffolding that it should always be constructed to a recognised standard, any alterations should only be made by a competent person and it should be inspected by a competent person on handover and at least every seven days as work progresses.”

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