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SCAFFOLDING CONTRACTOR FAILED TO MANAGE RISKS

Decorator injured in fall through ladder access opening

A scaffolding firm has been fined after a painter and decorator was injured when he fell through an unprotected ladder opening on scaffolding at a block of flats in Hemel Hempstead in November 2012. David Currie, aged 48, suffered a fractured arm and dislocated shoulder as a result of the incident.

Watford Magistrates heard (14 March) that the North London firm was contracted to erect scaffolding around a four-storey block of flats to allow decorators to repaint windows and woodwork.

During erection of the scaffold the scaffolders were asked by painting and maintenance contractors to significantly increase the height of the first lift of scaffolding. This alteration required a new layout design however the scaffolders continued to erect the scaffolding before these designs had been received.

Mr Currie was working on the third level of the scaffolding when he lost his footing and stumbled through an unprotected ladder opening. His outstretched arm fell between ladder rungs and the momentum of his fall caused him to fall to the second level below, dislocating his shoulder and fracturing his arm.

HSE found a lack of preventative measures e.g. protected ladder traps or guard rails, to prevent a fall to the level below. The access ladders between each level were too short and did not provide suitable hand holds.

Ladder access openings risk must be controlled

Beacon Scaffolding Ltd, of Gloucester Avenue, London, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,737 costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Rauf Ahmed, said:

“This incident was entirely preventable.

This case highlights the importance of scaffolding companies arranging ladder access openings between scaffold levels in such a way to prevent falls, and provide ladders of a sufficient length to offer suitable hand holds above landing places.

There are a number of well-known ways of arranging safe ladder access to prevent falls like this, and our investigation found no evidence of these being in use at the scene of the incident. In addition, if there are significant design changes to a scaffold, it is important the new designs are followed.

Falls from height continue to be the largest cause of fatalities and serious injury.”

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