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June 3, 2021

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Company and director sentenced after two workers injured in falls from height

A facilities and construction management company, along with the director, have been fined after unsuitable scaffolding partially collapsed, injuring two workers.

Workers on a six-metre high scaffolding tower were carrying out demolition activities at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Church Place, Bargoed when the platform of the tower partially collapsed,
Newport Magistrates’ Court was told. One man suffered broken ribs, tendon damage and since the incident depression and short-term memory loss. The other man suffered three broken vertebrae and has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The incident happened on 8 March 2018.

An HSE investigation found that the tower scaffolding was not suitable for the type of work being undertaken. It was not erected by a person trained and competent to do so, had been erected to a height above recommendation and was loaded with a weight greater than the safe working load stated by the manufacturer.

Invictus Facilities and Construction Management Limited of Pontprennau, Cardiff pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £106,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,501.

Director of the company Simon Paul Wright of Tredegar pleaded guilty to Section 33 (1a) by virtue of Section 37(1) of The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Gemma Pavey said: “Failure to select suitable and sufficient scaffolding towers and the failure to have them erected and dismantled by a competent person creates risk to workers who could be injured by a fall or collapse.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Roger Verallo, Chairman of PASMA, the not-for-profit industry body dedicated to promoting the safe use of towers, and Managing Director of Euro Towers commented: “This story highlights the devastating physical and mental effects that falling from a tower scaffold can have on people. That’s why it’s so vital that managers are trained to plan and supervise such work, and know how to select a suitable tower for each job. In addition, towers must only ever be assembled and dismantled by properly trained workers who know how to ensure it’s safe, stable and structurally secure at each stage.

“In this case, simply following the manufacturer’s instruction manual – as taught on PASMA training courses – would have prevented the tower being erected to an unsafe height and exceeding its safe working load. This prosecution is an example of the financial and personal consequences rightfully imposed on companies and their directors when they fail to meet their responsibilities.”

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