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LACK OF PLANNING LEADS BUILDER TO COURT

Premature removal of scaffolding resulted in unsafe work at height

Principal contractor Evans Brothers Builders Ltd has been prosecuted after a plumber suffered life-threatening injuries in a fall at an outdoor activities centre near Gwynfe in Carmarthenshire in March 2012. The 64-year-old workman was working on the refurbishment of an accommodation block when he fell 3m. He has been unable to return to work since the incident.

Carmarthen Magistrates heard (17 December) that the company arranged for scaffolding to be removed from the site before the injured worker had finished fitting new waste pipes to the outside of the building. A scaffolding tower was used as an alternative but was found to have been in a dangerous condition. Certain guardrails were missing and an unsecured ladder used for access. There was no internal ladder access.

Proper planning would have prevented injury

Evans Brothers Builders Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to ensure the work was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out safely and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,685 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Anne Marie Orrells said:

“The worker sustained life-threatening injuries in the fall and could easily have been killed. His injuries will affect him for the rest of his life.

If Evans Brothers Builders had planned the project properly then it would have known it needed to keep the scaffolding for a few more days, or provide alternative equipment so that the waste pipes could be fitted safely.

The scaffolding tower and unsecured ladder it provided was clearly not fit for use and the moment the worker attempted to climb it, his life was put in danger.”

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