A scaffolding company have been fined £30,000 for breaching The Health and Saftey at Work Act 1974 after pieces of metal fell from a building in St Helier, Jersey.
Bank Facelift Turns into Near Miss!
The Standard Chartered Bank Building in Jersey’s St Helier’s Castle Street was undergoing external redecoration in March of 2018 when K-Lok Scaffolding were brought in as subcontractors to fit 9 working platform levels each around 2 meters long. The scaffold was fitted and works commenced when on the 13th of March a piece of tubing weighing 1.5kg fell nearly 20ft landing just in front of a woman walking down Castle Street.
Immediate Report and Investigation
The incident was immediately reported to HSE and the woman was reported to be suffering severe shock following the incident. An inspector visited the site and discussed safe systems of work and ways to mitigate risk with the workers which included opting to work at non-peak times and setting up a pedestrian diversion whilst works were completed. The inspector also advised a ‘scaffold fan’ be fitted which acts as a net to catch falling objects.
Later that day…
Once the inspector left site a tool was dropped from a similar height, again landing a short distance away from a pedestrian in a ‘near-miss’ scanario. The workers on the scaffold said they were unaware of the incident as a scaffold fan had already been put in place following the earlier visit.
The inspector did find that the pavement had been closed and a diversion had been put in place which was being monitored by a member of the team, who was diverting foot traffic appropiately.
Unfortunately, another incident was reported the following day which forced a stop order on all works which was later lifted on the proviso that all works should be undertaken out of peak hours.
During later investigations, it was found that a spanner was dropped in the second incident but the staff on site had attempted to ‘cover-up’ their blunder by lying to the inspector on site.
Company in disrepute and £33,000 down
The worker later admitted he had been scaffolding 35 years without incident and had lied to protect himself and his ‘clean record’. This proved fruitless though as between the two incidents, K-Lok were fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in prosecution costs.
The court report states that it was ‘just luck’ that no pedestrians were harmed in these events that could have ’caused fatal injury’ given that they occured in a ‘very busy pedestrian thoroughfare’.
K-Lok have been given 12 months to pay their fine and costs and face the damage their company name has suffered as a challenge through the coming months.