A Fife construction firm has been fined for exposing workers to fall from height risk by using unsafe scaffolding.
Dangerous scaffolding was identified by inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) during an unannounced visit to a site operated by G and G Contracts (Fife) Ltd in Kirk Street, Culross, Fife on 15 April 2010.
Dunfermline Sheriff Court heard today (13 December) that work to construct a single storey house extension had reached the stage where roof tiling, the installation of a skylight and other work to make it wind and watertight remained outstanding.
A scaffold was in the process of being constructed by workers employed by the company. It appeared incomplete when HSE Inspectors arrived and they quickly established that those involved in erecting it were not trained or competent to do so.
The scaffold was also being used by two workers from a plumbing and heating firm sub-contracted by G and G Contracts (Fife) Ltd to install lead flashing.
The HSE Inspectors ordered all work to stop and carried out a full inspection. This revealed a number of deficiencies with the scaffolding, including missing guard rails, bracings and toeboards; and no guarding on a working platform. The ledgers, used to hold the structure together, were also incorrectly placed and an access ladder was not properly secured and did not extend to a sufficient height.
The court was told that the scaffolding failed to provide the required standard of protection.
G and G Contracts (Fife) Ltd was fined £2,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After sentencing, HSE inspector Mike Orr said:
“Falls from height are one of the main causes of fatalities and serious injuries in the workplace, and employers cannot afford to ignore the risks.
“Thankfully no-one was injured as a result of the deficiencies in the scaffolding at this site, which posed a clear danger to those who were required to use it in order to work at height.
“This case should serve as a warning to companies that HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action when workers are unnecessarily put at risk.”
In the 12 months to April 2012, 49 workers lost their lives on construction sites in the UK, with falls from height being the most common cause of fatal injuries.
Guidance on working safely at height can be found at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/workingatheight.htm
Guidance for small businesses can also be found on HSE’s website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/areyou/builder.htm
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