HSE prosecutes builder over fall risk

A Lancashire builder has been fined after he ignored a formal warning to stop working at the top of a dangerous scaffolding tower.

Jack Sanderson and another builder were spotted carrying out work to the roof of a two-storey building on Burnley Road in Bacup by a passing inspector from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) on 26 January 2011.

The inspector could see there were no handrails or toe boards around the platform at the top of the tower to protect the workers from falling some seven metres to the ground. He immediately issued a Prohibition Notice ordering the men to come down from the unsafe scaffolding.

However, just three hours later, the inspector returned and found both men back at the top of the tower but still with no safety precautions in place.

Accrington Magistrates' Court was told this week that Sanderson had put his own life and the life of the worker he employed at risk by failing to put measures in place to prevent them falling.

An investigation by HSE found Sanderson had been working on a renovation project on a terraced property, next to a row of shops and bus stop. This meant that passers-by were also put at risk of being struck by falling building materials.

Jack Sanderson, of Bear Street, Burnley, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and one of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The charges related to failing to take suitable measures to prevent workers being injured in a fall, failing to prevent injuries being caused by falling building materials, and failing to comply with a Prohibition Notice.

Sanderson, who is currently in prison for an unrelated offence, was fined £2,000 with no costs.

David Myrtle, an HSE inspector, said: "Mr Sanderson was given a chance to put things right when he received a Prohibition Notice but he chose to ignore it. He found himself in court as a result.

"Several lives were put at risk because the scaffolding wasn't safe to use, including the lives of another worker and members of the public doing their shopping on the street below.

"This case should act as a warning to those working in the construction industry that if they ignore formal enforcement notices issued by HSE then they are likely to face prosecution."

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here