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SMALL BUILDER FAILED TO PROVIDE SAFE PLATFORM

Incident and prosecution highlights risks on smaller domestic client projects

P O Sharps Landscapes has been prosecuted after a carpenter was seriously injured when he fell 3m from scaffolding whilst working on a home extension.

Michael McCarthy, aged 60, was engaged in construction of the roof of a home extension in Poole, Dorset in September 2008. The extension was being built above an existing garage which protruded beyond the face of the main building requiring a ‘step’ in the scaffold at roof level.

Whilst Mr McCarthy descended a ladder he stepped backwards over the open edge and fell 3m fracturing his spine and ankles.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard the platform was not fitted with guardrails and a ladder used to access the working platform above was positioned such that users were forced to stand backward at the unguarded edge.

Accident easily prevented by simple measures 

P O Sharps Landscapes pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,000.

After the hearing HSE inspector Frank Flannery commented:

“Falls from height can cause significant and life-changing injuries and duty holders must take steps to prevent falls wherever possible.

Mr McCarthy’s injuries are serious and permanent: he has a steel rod in his back, steel pins in his right ankle, and left foot/heel. He suffers with chronic pain and has no prospect of working again.

This incident could easily have been prevented by erecting guardrails along the platform.”

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