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WORKMEN INJURED DISMANTLING SCAFFOLD

Lack of training and skills to dismantle safely triggers fine

Rae Brown & Company Limited, an Aberdeen-based building and joinery firm, has been sentenced after a worker suffered serious injuries when he fell 3m from scaffolding during dismantling operations.

John William Wilson, aged 47, fractured his left ankle, damaged the ligaments in his right ankle was knocked unconscious and cut his head. He was in hospital overnight and remained in plaster for six weeks as a result of his injuries.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that on 24 July 2012 Mr Wilson was instructed to move the scaffolding to a new site. He and an apprentice arrived at the premises where two scaffolding towers were erected in a narrow space between the building and a wall.

During the dismantling some elements were removed which made the structure unstable. The uprights moved and the platform on which Mr Wilson was standing fell to the ground.

HSE investigators found that neither Mr Wilson nor the apprentice had received any formal training in working with the type of scaffolding involved in the incident.

Erecting and dismantling by the trained and skilled

Rae Brown & Company Limited, of Rose Street in Aberdeen, was fined £4,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulations 4 and 8 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Liz Hunter said:

“The risks from falls at height are well known in the construction industry. Erecting and dismantling scaffolds should only be done by trained and skilled persons or under the supervision of such a person because you cannot entirely eliminate the risk of falls.

No such training or supervision was provided by Rae Brown and Company to Mr Wilson and his apprentice. They should never have been allowed to dismantle scaffolding that had been left unsecured and unsupported in this way.

The correct method would have used competent erectors following the instructions in the scaffold manual, including safe ladder access and removal of components from below whilst working from a complete platform. The scaffold should have been erected on level ground that was free from debris and other trip hazards.

As a result of the company’s failings, Mr Wilson sustained injuries that left him unable to work for 11 weeks and it was pure luck that the apprentice was not seriously hurt too.”

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