July 28, 2017

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£150k fines after scaffolding falls onto worker

A Dorchester developer has been ordered to pay almost £150,000 in fines and costs after a worker was seriously injured when she was struck by scaffolding fittings which fell more than 30 feet.

Stonemason Sarah Klopper, 44, suffered broken bones caused by fittings toppling from a crane at a construction site in Queen Mother Square, Poundbury.

The site she was working on was ‘building four’ in Queen Mother Square, which was to become the Duchess of Cornwall Inn.

Sub-contracted stonemason

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said a number of workers were put at risk of the load falling but only Mrs Klopper, a sub-contracted stonemason, was seriously injured.

Poundbury-based sustainable developer Zero C Holdings Limited and Devon-based lifting company Carter Training Ltd have been prosecuted by the HSE over the accident, which happened in June 2015.

Scaffolding emptied onto workers

Zero C, whose projects include those with the Duchy of Cornwall at Poundbury and Officer’s Field on Portland built for the 2012 Olympics, said ‘lessons had been learned’ from the incident.

Weymouth Magistrates’ Court heard how employees of Carter Training Ltd were using a mobile crane on the site when the attachment holding 500 scaffolding fittings weighing 2kg each was turned on its side emptying all contents onto four workers, including Mrs Klopper, and the concrete flooring 10.5 metres below.

Mrs Klopper suffered two fractures to her left shoulder blade, a fracture to her left collar bone, a cut to the back of her head and bruising.

The HSE’s investigation found the stillage attachment used on the crane was not suitable for lifting heavy and large amounts of scaffolding. Lifting the scaffolding directly above a number of contractors working below also put them at risk of harm.

Inherently unsafe

It was also found that principal contractor Zero C failed to carry out an audit of all lifting plans and as a result failed to manage the risks associated with this lifting activity. Zero C did not have clear lines of communication between the lifting company Carter Training Ltd and contractors working on the site below, the HSE said.

Zero C Holdings Limited of Armitage House, Victor Jackson Avenue, Poundbury, Dorchester, pleaded guilty to breaching a regulation under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £145,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,571.20.

Carter Training (services) Ltd of Budleigh Hill, East Budleigh, Devon pleaded guilty to breaching a regulation under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, and was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,501.40.

Very lucky

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Nicole Buchanan said: “The worker is very lucky that her injuries were not life threatening.

“Both Zero C Holdings and Carter Training put a number of workers at risk of harm when they failed to plan or identify the risks of heavy lifting.”

She added: “This case highlights the need for duty holders to properly plan all lifting operations before work is carried out to manage the risk of injury to workers. Lifting directly above workers is inherently unsafe and should be avoided wherever possible”

A spokesman for Zero C said: “We wish to reiterate our sincere regret to those affected by this incident. The welfare of our staff and contractors is of upmost importance to us and we are committed to operating within stringent health and safety guidelines. However, on this occasion, our own high standards and those of our contractor were not met.

“We have learned lessons from this incident, and have thoroughly reviewed all of the health and safety procedures on our development sites. Where we have identified improvements, we have ensured they have been implemented.”

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