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ACCESS TOWER ERECTORS PROVE INCOMPETENT

Refurb contractor fined over scaffold tower collapse and injury

MJM Fitout Ltd has been prosecuted after a labourer fell more than 4m from a poorly constructed scaffold tower during the “stripping out” of a basement gym in central London. The Romanian national fractured two vertebrae and broke five ribs in the fall on 19 April 2011.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard (23 January) the workman was one of a team of labourers removing ventilation ducting. A scaffold tower was erected to access the ducting from a ceiling above a squash court when the tower toppled causing him to fall to the floor.

HSE investigators found that the temporary labourers were not competent to erect a scaffold tower and that the tower was constructed without adequate supervision. The district judge heard the incident could have been prevented had the work been properly planned, managed and monitored.

PC failed to plan, manage and monitor construction phase

MJM Fitout Ltd of Swanley, Kent, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £3,500 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 requires that a principal contractor for a project must plan, manage and monitor the construction phase in a way which ensures that, so far as is reasonably practicable, it is carried out without risks to health or safety.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Keith Levart said:

“The worker suffered painful injuries that could have been avoided had the labour crew been properly managed, and had their work on site been adequately monitored by MJM Fitout Ltd.

The temporary staff had effectively been left to their own devices and were working in an unplanned and unsafe manner. It illustrates the clear need for companies to have practical arrangements in place to ensure that all personnel involved in and undertaking construction work understand what is expected of them, and are able to co-operate and communicate with one another.

Work at height from scaffolds poses clear risks, and should only ever be undertaken by competent personnel with the right equipment, knowledge and experience.”

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