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SCAFFOLD FIRM FINED OVER PUBLIC RISK AND INJURY

Prosecution highlights danger presented by pavement scaffolds

A scaffolding contractor has been prosecuted after a member of the public suffered head injuries when walking into an ‘unguarded’ pole.

Rothesay Sheriff Court was told (11 Feb) that Thomas Hannen was contracted by Argyll and Bute Council in January 2011 to erect scaffolding around a disused hotel so the council could assess the condition of the building.

When Mr Hannen and two employees began erecting the scaffolding members of the public were not excluded, or actively discouraged, from using the pavement beneath the work area. 

Later in the day a 61-year-old woman walking under the scaffolding struck her head on a horizontal pole at about 1.5m height. She was taken to hospital with a head injury and fractures to her left ankle caused by her falling.

HSE investigators found that Thomas Hannen failed to:

  • take advantage of the offer made by the local authority to close the footpath;
  • properly assess the risk and guard against danger to pedestrians;
  • exclude members of the public from the work area;
  • display any warning signs alerting the public e.g  padding / warning tape; and
  • instruct his workers to attach padding or tape around the scaffolding under erection.
Assessment should identify danger to public and preventive steps needed

Thomas Hannen, 62, of Rothesay, was fined £1,670 after pleading guilty to breaching sections 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. After sentencing, HSE Inspector Gerry Muir, said:

“This was an awful accident to a member of the public that could easily have been avoided had Mr Hannen taken some simple, readily available precautions.

Anyone planning construction work in public places should ensure they carry out a risk assessment that identifies potential dangers to members of the public and take adequate steps to prevent them.”

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