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INQUEST: WORKMAN STRUCK BY FALLING SCAFFOLD POLE

Conflicting evidence heard over adequacy of measures to prevent death

The details of an inquest have been reported by the Ham and High regarding the death of construction worker Anton Dochev who was struck on the head by a falling scaffold pole during a break in the ‘smoking area’ on a development in Bayswater London on August 6, 2010.

Part of the scaffolding above him was being dismantled when the pole fell. The work was being carried out by two “vastly experienced” scaffolders. One of the scaffolders released a coupling and scaffold then “went like a bullet” falling to the floor “like a ballistic missile”.

Three alternative preventive action identified by Coroner 

Westminster Coroner Fiona Wilcox heard conflicting evidence over the adequacy of measures in place to prevent the death. One witness stated that the location of the smoking area and its lack of a protective cover had been “repeatedly raised with site management”.  A further witness commented that  locating the smoking area under scaffolding on a busy site and where it is being dismantled was “not a good idea”

By contrast Site Safety Manager Paul Westie told the court the smoking area was moved after the accident out of respect to the deceased. He added that in his view precautions at the time of death were “reasonable and appropriate”. Construction Manager Timothy Hawkins disagreed with the criticism and had “no issue” with the location of the smoking area.

HSE Specialist Inspector Andrew East reviewed the site after the incident and told the court “if I had been there before the accident I do not think I would have said there was a problem”

However, in summing up HM Coroner Fiona Wilcox said: 

“A risk of falling objects in the smoking area was identified and communicated prior to the accident. Alternative options included moving the smoking area, covering it with protective measures, or closing it off during scaffolding work but no action was taken.”

The cause of death was given as an accident

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