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Construction company fined after apprentice joiner injured in fall

Scotia Homes Ltd, an Ellon based firm was prosecuted yesterday, 17 March, over the incident that occurred on 12 October 2009 at the company’s Kirkside construction site in Laurencekirk.
Stonehaven Sheriff Court heard that apart from a plywood sheet placed over the stairwell entrance there was no edge protection or guards in place to prevent employees from falling through the open stairwell.
Scotia Homes (North) Limited, 1 Balmacassie, Ellon, Aberdeenshire pled guilty to breaching regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £4,000.  The fine was reduced from £6,000 due to an early guilty plea.
Investigating HSE Inspector Alan MacKinnon said:
“This incident could have been avoided.  The fall protection measure in place was completely inadequate as a means of preventing anyone falling from height.
“Construction is one of Scotland’s most dangerous industries.  During 2008/09 alone 10 people died and 1,423 were injured in Scotland while working in construction.
“Last year there were four fatalities and 1094 injuries caused by falls from height in the workplace. 
“Risks from working at height are entirely preventable.  Employers working at height need to ensure that risks are fully assessed and that open edged areas of work are suitably guarded.”
In a spearate incident, two directors of a decorating firm have been prosecuted after a worker was left brain damaged while working at a residential refurbishment.
Self-employed Trevor Dawson from Ravensthorpe, West Yorkshire, was working as a painter on a student accommodation refurbishment when the incident happened 15 August 2007.
Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Dawson, 58, was working at Ashenhurst Student Village in Newsom when he apparently fell from a ladder, though no witnesses could confirm this.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) yesterday (16 March) prosecuted, Liversedge Decorating Contractors Ltd, two of its directors, and a second company Foster Turn-Key Contracts Ltd for health and safety breaches.
The HSE investigation found principal contractor Foster Turn-Key Contracts Ltd and Liversedge Decorating Contractors Ltd, contracted to decorate the flats, had allowed work to be carried out that was not adequately planned or supervised and had used inappropriate equipment.
Liversedge Decorating Contractors Ltd of Mountain Road, Thornhill, Dewsbury, pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and were fined £2,000. Paul Daniel of Smithy Carr Lane, Brighouse, and Clive Dewhirst of Mountain Road, Thornhill, Dewsbury, both directors of the firm, also pleaded guilty to the same charge. They were fined £1,000 each.
Foster Turn-Key Contractors of Plover Road, Lindley, Huddersfield, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22 (1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. They were fined £2,000.
Mr Dawson is unable to recall any details of the incident because of his injuries sustained to his head.
After the hearing HSE Inspector David Stewart said:
"The ladder Trevor Dawson used, which we believe may have caused or contributed to his fall, was simply not suitable for the work he was doing. It was a domestic step ladder which should not have been allowed on the site.
"In this situation, a tower scaffold would have been much more appropriate.
"Falls from height remain the single most common cause of fatality and serious injury in the construction industry. The law is quite clear and HSE provides freely-available guidance on how work at height should be managed.
"In this instance, individual directors of a company were found guilty for not planning and supervising the work properly. This case should send a clear message to company directors about their responsibilities for health and safety. "
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