Plumbers put at risk by unsafe scaffolding

Published:  14 December, 2012

A Fife construction firm has been fined for exposing workers to risk of fall from a height by using unsafe scaffolding.

Dunfermline Sheriff Court heard on 13 December that the dangerous scaffolding was identified by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors during an unannounced visit to a site operated by G and G Contracts in Fife in April 2010.

Construction of the single storey house extension had reached the stage where roof tiling, the installation of a skylight and other work to make it wind and watertight remained outstanding.

The scaffold was in the process of being constructed by workers employed by the company when HSE inspectors arrived and they quickly established that those involved in erecting it were not trained or competent to do so.

The scaffold was also being used by two workers from a plumbing and heating firm sub-contracted by G and G Contracts to install lead flashing.

The HSE Inspectors ordered all work to stop and carried out a full inspection, which revealed a number of deficiencies including missing guard rails, bracings and toeboards; and no guarding on a working platform.

The ledgers, used to hold the structure together, were also incorrectly placed and an access ladder was not properly secured and did not extend to a sufficient height.

G and G Contracts was fined £2,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005.

HSE inspector Mike Orr said: "Falls from height are one of the main causes of fatalities and serious injuries in the workplace, and employers cannot afford to ignore the risks.

"Thankfully no-one was injured as a result of the deficiencies in the scaffolding at this site, which posed a clear danger to those who were required to use it in order to work at height.

"This case should serve as a warning to companies that HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action when workers are unnecessarily put at risk."

In the 12 months to April 2012, 49 workers lost their lives on construction sites in the UK, with falls from height being the most common cause of fatal injuries.

Guidance on working safely at height