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May 3, 2012

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Shipyard apprentice hurt after scaffolding boards see-sawed

A teenage apprentice required physiotherapy to recover from knee injuries sustained in a fall in a dry dock.

Sitting on 27 April – exactly a year to the day after the incident occurred – Truro magistrates heard that David Banks, 19, was working on a boat at Pendennis Shipyard Ltd, in Falmouth. The boat had been enclosed in plastic tenting while it was being painted and the teenager was helping to prepare the boat for launch by cutting away the plastic.
Mr Banks accessed the first level of scaffolding boards when they seesawed, causing him to fall about two metres to the dock floor. The planks were insecure and there were no safety rails in place.

Mr Banks sustained injuries to his knees as a result of the fall and required physiotherapy. He was off work for about two and a half weeks.

Investigating HSE inspector Melissa Lai-Hung served two Improvement Notices on the firm; one referred to inadequate supervision, information, instruction and training, and the other covered a lack of planning, organisation and control of the task involving first-year apprentices.

The court also heard that Pendennis Shipyard had previously been warned about the risks associated with working at height and had received four Improvement Notices and one Prohibition Notice relating to this type of work since 2009.
Speaking after the hearing, inspector Melissa Lai-Hung said: “Mr Banks was unaware that the scaffold planks were insecure and there were no safety rails in place.

“The company provided no safe working method for its workforce, there was no risk assessment for the work, and a lack of information, training, instruction and supervision at the site. This incident could easily have had much more serious consequences for Mr Banks.”

Pendennis Shipyard Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of s2(1) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £6000 and ordered to pay full costs of £6288.

Toby Allies, Pendennis Shipyard’s sales and marketing director, told the Cornish Guardian: “We are extremely sorry this has happened and we take health and safety very seriously as a company. We are working closely with the HSE to move forward and ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

The HSE is satisfied that the firm has complied with all the enforcement notices.

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