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June 15, 2012

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Construction firm ignored workers’ concerns about unsafe scaffold

A construction company has been prosecuted after a worker fell from an unsecured scaffold tower, which he had requested not to build for safety reasons.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that Green Acre Homes (South East) Ltd was appointed as principal contractor by Wandle Housing Association to build 85 flats at a site in Peckham, London.

Handyman John Morgan, 44, and a colleague were asked to build a tower scaffold, around one of the properties, despite there not being enough space to fix the structure on a flat base. The men told the company that a tower scaffold was unsuitable and requested permission not to construct it, but these concerns were ignored and they were ordered to build the scaffold. €

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Alexhoward_121
Alexhoward_121
11 years ago

The company clearly didn’t plan the job properly in the first place (or maybe it did & deliberately cut corners/costs!) As soon as someone points out that it won’t be safe he gets slapped down by the classic “JFDI” syndrome.
No critcism to Mr Morgan here though – he probably felt had to capitulate to keep his job or avoid repercussions – which I bet happens far more often and in more companies than we’ll ever find out!

Alexhoward_121
Alexhoward_121
11 years ago

Spot on Bob.
IF – “Mr Morgan and his colleague informed the company that it was not safe to erect a tower scaffold in this location and that it would not be safely secured to the building. Their concerns were once again ignored and they were told to build the scaffold regardless.”

Then – It’s a given for personeal negligence – I totally agree – why wasn’t the bullying boss that told them to get it built nailed under s37 then HSE?

Andrew
Andrew
11 years ago

Person who ordered the scaff tower to be built should definitely have been prosecuted as should of directors of the company- they must have connived and consented to this dreadful approach to managing working at high. What they did afterwards; refusing to attend interview and putting the company into liquidation suggests to me that they should also be barred from being directors of a similar business.

Andrew
Andrew
11 years ago

Yet another company avoids a fine by going into administration. Surely there’s a case for the Housing Association being co-defendants and/or prosecuting the directors of Green Acre Homes.

Andrew
Andrew
11 years ago

I used to work as an accident investigator for PI solicitors; just about every claimant I interviewed displayed some form of hesitation over bringing the claim. Most were fearing some kind of retribution from line managers or the company if they went ahead with the claim.

Bob
Bob
11 years ago

If that`s the tower used, that is over 4 times in height of its base dims? Amazing how they can find the funds for tube and fitting when required. Again the “in mitigation” states no previous convictions?

Bob
Bob
11 years ago

I fail to understand how the person responsible for both instructing the work and insisting upon its continuation, after having been questioned as it being an unsafe method of work by company employees, is not deemed to be personally negligent for instructing continuation of an unsafe system of work?

There is no mention of said person being incompetent or unaware of the risk?

If ever there was a case of proven individual negligence surely this is such an example?

Bob
Bob
11 years ago

Can`t work it out, when working for the HSE I was often amazed at some prosecutions.

If it was not an unknowing act or ommision through lack of knowledge or sensibility etc.

is it not therefore a deliberate act or omission? and therefore negligent?

If it was a mistake, what brought about such a mistake?

I suppose we all have a Degree in hindsight.

Mine must be a First Class Honours by now.

HSE do operate in varied shades of grey, as I was often told repeatedly?

Filberton
Filberton
11 years ago

We should remember that “Person” includes a company so HASWA Reg 36 applies to the individual (i.e. company was at breach due to the actions of an individual) so why no prosecution.
Another case of “Mind over Matter” – I don’t mind coz I make a stonking profit and workers don’t matter coz if caught I’ll go bust!
Of course a civil claim of negligence could be brought against the individual who said JFDI, of course he’ll be indemnified by the company….Oh dear..it’s gone bust…what a pity

Hallasbridge
Hallasbridge
11 years ago

There is much left unsaid in this case. Why wasn’t the site manager prosecuted for ignoring the concerns of the workers and again when the representative from Wandle also said the first scaffold was unsafe why didn’t the project manager review the arrangements he should have been held to account. The company obviously went in to liquidation to try and avoid the prosecution so the owner should have been pursued as well.

Lisa
Lisa
11 years ago

It is a shame that the company was convicted rather than individuals, as this company has now been liquidated this leaves the individuals to start again with a ‘clean sheet’

Lets hope they learn lessons and don’t repeat this under an different company name.

Neil
Neil
11 years ago

In response to your comment Bob i think you will find that the height to base ratio for an aluminium tower is 3 times the the smallest base dimension.