HSE fines scaffolding firm after Hilton accident

The Health & Safety Executive prosecuted John Doyle Construction Ltd following an incident at the Hilton Hotel construction site in July 2007, which is part of the Liverpool One development in the city centre.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay costs of £13,244 at Liverpool Magistrates' Court on Thursday 8 October.

The court heard that employees at John Doyle Construction, of Little Burrow in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, were moving a scaffolding tower on the site on 12 July 2007 when it overturned and fell down an embankment.

Employee Gerard Baccino was removing lifting chains from the top of the scaffolding, and fell approximately six metres to the ground when it toppled over. Baccino, 49, suffered back injuries in the fall and fractured his pelvis and chest. The HSE said the incident has had a long-term psychological effect on him, and he has been unable to return to work.

Mark Cuff, HSE's Investigating Inspector, said: "This incident was entirely avoidable and was caused by John Doyle Construction asking Mr Baccino to work at the top of a structure that was inherently unstable.

"The scaffolding tower was being used during the construction of concrete columns, used to support the building's floors. It was specifically designed to be lifted as a single unit, but the company decided to partially dismantle it and move it in two parts.

"John Doyle Construction should have considered the implications of not following the procedures for lifting the scaffolding. Its failure to do so resulted in one of its employees being seriously injured, and it was only by chance that there wasn't a fatality."

Baccino had only been working for John Doyle Construction for a few days when the incident happened. He said: "I started working for the company on the Monday and the incident happened four days later. We were moving the scaffolding tower to a new location on the site when one of the lifting chains got caught.

"I've been in a lot of pain since the incident, and will never be able to do manual work again. Construction companies have to start listening more to their workers and stop thinking that they know all the answers.

"I hope they will learn from what has happened to me and improve health and safety in the future."

The Liverpool Hilton opens on 17 November.

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