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    COMPANY FAILED TO MANAGE RISK OF FALLING

    Fall from height exposes ineffective reliance on fall arrest system

    Bouygues (UK) Limited, has been ordered to pay over £20k in fines and prosecution costs after a carpenter fell whilst securing concrete shuttering. The court also ordered the company to pay £5k compensation in addition to any civil case payment. 

    The incident, on a new school in Waltham Forest in October 2007, occurred when the carpenter was tightening shutters prior a concrete pour. He fell 5m from a platform causing fractures and other injuries. He was unable to work for over six months.

    A fall arrest system was used during installation of the concrete slabs, however, HSE found that effective fall arrest arrangements were not in place in place to manage risk during subsequent securing and release of the shuttering. In addition, a mobile access platform was available and could have been used.

    HSE Inspector Dominic Elliss said: “This case clearly demonstrates the importance of following the hierarchy of controls when planning any work at height. At best the company were placing reliance on a poorly supervised and inadequately trained system of harnessing to mitigate the consequence of falls. A cherry picker was already on site and could have been used to provide far safer access.”

    Comment: There is a need for attention to detail at all stages where fall arrest systems are relied upon when working at height. Design of the system, how it is to be used, briefings and rescue arrangements all need to be followed through meticulously. The same considerations apply to mobile elevating platforms which, although further up the ‘heirachy’, are not without risks of their own.

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