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SCAFFOLDER FALL EXPOSED RISK MANAGEMENT FLAWS

Fall through fragile rooflight ends career of trainee scaffolder

Contract Scaffolding Services Limited has been fined £15,000 after trainee scaffolder was seriously injured when he fell more 6m through a roof light at a factory in Cumbria on 22 February 2013.

Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard the company were contracted to install edge protection on the roof of a building to allow roof removal ahead of building demolition.

The 23-year-old trainee scaffolder was part of a four-strong team carrying out the work. He was wearing a harness but was not attached to any anchor point at the time he fell.

Whilst walking past a colleague on the roof and he stepped on a roof light which gave way, causing him to fall through the opening striking parts of the internal steel structure during the fall.

He suffered severe cuts to his face and head and his knee cap was shattered into 12 pieces. He is no longer able to carry out manual work.

RAMS failed to identify rooflight risk

The court heard Contract Scaffolding Services Ltd prepared a scaffolding plan, method statement and risk assessment prior to starting the work. However, the documents did not mention the presence of the fragile roof lights.

The scaffolding plan stated the scaffolders would initially work from a cherry picker or scissor lift and that when a single handrail was installed the men would gain access to the roof.

This offered no protection from a fall through the roof lights, which ran at four metre intervals and left less than half a metre of usable space where the scaffolders were working.

The plan made no mention of the need to wear a harness when working on the roof. The injured man was issued with a harness with a 5 ft lanyard. If the lanyard had been attached to scaffolding it would not have stopped a fall through the roof lights.

Fragile roof lights “well known”

Contract Scaffolding Services Limited, of Carleton Depot, London Road, Carlisle, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £920 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 9(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 on 18 June 2014.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Martin Paren said:

“A worker at Contract Scaffolding Services Ltd has suffered injuries that could affect him from the rest of his life purely because the company failed to make sure its employees were safe.

The risk of falling through fragile roof lights is well known in the industry but the risk assessment carried out by the company in this case failed to highlight their presence and to ensure a safe system of work was in place to prevent falls.

A fall from a height of more than six metres could have been fatal. As it is, this young man has suffered serious injuries which could have easily been avoided because his employer failed in its duty to ensure his safety.”

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