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Lives risked on scaffolding

Lives risked on scaffolding

2 December 2012 Email this article

A Lancashire builder has appeared in court after he ignored a formal warning to stop working at the top of a dangerous scaffolding tower.

Jack Sanderson and another builder were spotted carrying out work to the roof of a two-storey building on Burnley Road in Bacup by a passing inspector from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 26 January last year.

The inspector could see there were no handrails or toe boards around the platform at the top of the tower to protect the workers from falling some seven metres to the ground. He immediately issued a Prohibition Notice ordering the men to come down from the unsafe scaffolding. 

However, just three hours later, the inspector returned and found both men back at the top of the tower but still with no safety precautions in place.

Accrington Magistrates' Court was told today (22 November 2012) that Mr Sanderson had put his own life and the life of the worker he employed at risk by failing to put measures in place to prevent them falling.

An investigation by HSE found Mr Sanderson had been working on a renovation project on a terraced property, next to a row of shops and bus stop. This meant that passers-by were also put at risk of being struck by falling building materials.

Jack Sanderson, of Bear Street, Burnley, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and one of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The charges related to failing to take suitable measures to prevent workers being injured in a fall, failing to prevent injuries being caused by falling building materials, and failing to comply with a Prohibition Notice.

Mr Sanderson, who is currently in prison for another unrelated offence, was fined £2,000 with no costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector David Myrtle said:

"Mr Sanderson was given a chance to put things right when he received a Prohibition Notice but he chose to ignore it. He found himself in court as a result.

"Several lives were put at risk because the scaffolding wasn't safe to use, including the lives of another worker and members of the public doing their shopping on the street below.

"This case should act as a warning to those working in the construction industry that if they ignore formal enforcement notices issued by HSE then they are likely to face prosecution. 

The latest figures show that 38 people died as a result of a fall in a workplace in Great Britain in 2010/11, and more than 4,000 suffered a major injury. Information on preventing falls is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls.