Skimping on edge protection costs firm thousands after worker injury

by Alex on August 21, 2013

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Photo: Aaron Escobar

A Motherwell-based construction firm was fined over £13,000 after a worker fell four metres from an unprotected farm roof, leading to major injuries.

The worker was laying out polythene sheeting on the single storey extension with another employee when he walked backwards over an unprotected edge. He fell into the gap between newly installed decking and the building on which he was working, fracturing his collarbone and bruising his right lung. His injuries required an operation to insert a bone graft and a metal plate to repair the broken bone.

After an investigation into the accident, HSE prosecuted the construction firm. In a hearing at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, inspectors revealed that there had been serious failings in the firm’s on-site safety measures.

The jury heard how only two sides of the building were protected by scaffolding, while there were no guardrails, handrails or edge protection at all. Scaffolding had only been constructed around two sides to allow for the installation of patio doors, but a poor plan of work meant that no further scaffolding was built after the doors were in place. The lack of safety measures meant that both of the two workers on the roof were at serious danger of falls from a height.

HSE inspector Graham Mitchell was shocked at the firm’s insufficient planning. “The company was already using scaffolding,” he commented, “so it would have been straightforward and relatively inexpensive to have planned the work and stopped anyone going onto the roof until scaffolding had been continued along the unprotected edge.”

The worker was ‘extremely fortunate’ to have survived, according to Mitchell.

The construction firm was fined £13,400 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this work was poorly planned. For straightforward risk assessments and method statements, go for HANDS HQ. Our quick and easy online tools mean you don’t have to be Einstein to plan your work safely.

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