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‘NUDGING’ SCAFFOLD TOWER BASE CAUSED COLLAPSE

Apprentice fell with falling tower in poorly planned work at height

Pellikaan (Construction) Ltd has been fined after an apprentice fell more than 6m from a scaffold tower during construction of the new West Bromwich Leisure Centre on 4 October 2013.

Sandwell Magistrates heard (12 May) that the 19-year-old workman was standing on a tower scaffold in the empty swimming pool cutting canvas coverings from wooden roof beams. The scaffold did not fit beneath the roof beams and he proceeded to remove the tower handrails.

The site manager (who is also the mans father) and another employee “nudged” the tower at the base in order to help remove the handrails. In doing so the tower collapsed and the teenager fell.

He landed with such force that his safety helmet broke and he suffered a fractured skull. He also shattered his ankle and is still off work.

HSE investigators found that work on the roof beams was not properly planned and carried out safely. The scaffold was placed on a slope within the pool and outriggers were not used to stabilise the tower.

Selecting the right equipment is crucial

Pellikaan (Construction) Ltd, of Gutter Lane, London, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £1,046 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Gareth Langston said:

“This incident was entirely preventable and shows the importance of selecting the right equipment for the job. Tower scaffolds can be useful tools but should not be used on a slope when not levelled and should always be used with outriggers.

The following week painters were due to arrive with a stable and versatile mobile elevating work platform which would have much better suited to this job. Had Pellikaan waited for this equipment to come on site they would not have tried to use an unsuitable scaffold and a young man would not have suffered a painful injury that could have quite easily proved fatal.”

 

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