HSE prosecutes over unsafe scaffolding

A Clitheroe-based contractor has been fined £5,000 for putting the lives of several construction workers at risk as they worked on unsafe scaffolding at a farm in the Ribble Valley.

The men were spotted working on a barn conversion in Mellor Brow in Mellor on 13 March 2012 during a series of on-the-spot inspections carried out by the Health & Safety Executive targeting refurbishment and roof work.

The inspector immediately served a Prohibition Notice ordering the men to come down from the scaffolding. Their employer, Bailey Developments (NW) Ltd, was prosecuted this week for failing to take sufficient measures to prevent workers being injured in a fall.

Accrington Magistrates' Court was told the company had been served with a Prohibition Notice in 2009 for previous unsafe work at height at a construction site in Preston.

During the site visit to the farm in Mellor, workers were seen on scaffolding platforms more than five metres above the ground, but there were numerous missing guard rails, deck boards and toe boards to prevent them falling. The scaffolding was also potentially unstable and there were unsafe ladders leaning against it.

Bailey Developments (NW) Ltd, of Deanfield Drive, Clitheroe, was fined £5,000 after admitting breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was also ordered to pay £2,000 in prosecution costs.

John Bailey, managing director of Bailey Developments (NW), said: "We've always taken health and safety very seriously. All our employees and contractors undergo rigorous training meaning everyone understands the importance of, and how to maintain, site safety.

"On this occasion a couple of individuals didn't maintain our high standards and we failed a HSE inspection in relation to checking a specific piece of scaffolding. As a result of this incident, we have disciplined some members of our team and they have all undergone further health and safety training.

"We respect the work HSE do in maintaining safety standards and have fully co-operated with this matter."

John Chesworth, managing partner of Preston law firm, Harrison Drury, which represented Bailey Developments (NW), said: "The Magistrates accepted that Bailey Development took its health and safety obligations seriously and it had taken the required steps after the incident to tighten up procedures. As a result, the fine was in the bottom bracket."

HSE Inspector Anthony Polec said: "Bailey Developments risked the lives of its employees by failing to ensure the scaffolding they were working on was safe. It was only luck that no one was injured in a fall.

"Work at height is one of the biggest causes of workplace deaths in the UK, with dozens of fatal injuries every year. It's therefore vital that construction companies do all they can to protect their workers."

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