London Scaffolding collapse lands company in court

Westminster Magistrates’ Court have today fined a loft conversion company, Lofty Creations UK Ltd, for safety failings after an employee was injured in a dramatic scaffold collapse outside a property in North London.

The structure buckled, tipped towards the home it was being used to serve and bent in on itself – effectively creating a chute that sent the worker and an array of materials, including plaster boards, wood and lead rolls, crashing six metres to the ground below.

Thomas Pastura, 24, broke two ribs in the fall at the property in Danvers Road, Hornsey, on 4 October 2013, but was fortunate not to have been more seriously injured or even killed.  His employer, Acton-based Lofty Creations UK Ltd, was prosecuted yesterday (11 March) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified clear failings with the design of the scaffold.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard it was being used to provide access to the roof of a traditional two-storey property where a loft conversion was underway, and had been built to reach across a ground level bay window.

HSE established that the weight of the materials on the structure at the time of collapse was between 3-3.5 tonnes – the equivalent of a transit van. This was far greater than it could safely handle and it gave way as it was simply unable to bear the load.

Magistrates were told that, as a company routinely engaged with work at height, Lofty Creations should have known the property required a scaffold built to an approved design by a specialist structural engineer.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Simon Hester said:

“The collapse would not have occurred had the scaffold been designed by a competent specialist to carry loads of 3.5 tonnes with an overhanging cantilever to accommodate the bay window.  That didn’t happen and Mr Pastura suffered a painful injury as a result – although he is perhaps fortunate not to have come off a lot worse.

Lofty Creations failed to adequately plan and design the scaffold that collapsed; failed to manage the storage of heavy materials; and ultimately failed to protect its workforce.”

Lofty Creations UK Ltd, of Warple Way, Acton, NW3, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay a further £1,019 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

These regulations are due to change in April this year.  Please read our article on the changes in CDM regulations, to find out how these changes may apply to you.

Young employee’s arm is severed due to health and safety breach

A Nottinghamshire company has been fined after Mark Marshall, a 19-year-old employee severed most of his forearm in an unguarded machine.  Mr Marshall, of Retford, was working on an assembly line at Kybotech Ltd’s site in Ollerton Road, Tuxford, when the incident happened on 11 July 2013.

His job was to remove treated wood panels from a conveyor and stack them for storage, whilst manually apply wood treatment to any areas that had not been fully coated whilst wearing an old glove. This glove fell on to the conveyor in front of the drive mechanism and Mr Marshall instinctively went to reach for it. As he did so, his gloved hand was drawn into the drive mechanism through a gap above the conveyor chain.

His hand and much of his forearm was severed and it was later reduced further during surgery. He will also need a further operation. Mr Marshall has not been able to return to work since.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found a piece of plastic that would have reduced the size of the opening in front of the drive mechanism had previously been damaged meaning the opening was not small enough to prevent a hand from being drawn in.  The guarding was also unsuitable in that it was not fixed into position, although this was not the cause of the incident.  An inspection revealed guarding on the drive mechanism of two other conveyors was also unsuitable.

Kybotech Ltd, of Grassthorpe Road, Sutton-on-Trent, was fined £40,000 with £1314 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing HSE inspector Stuart Pilkington said:

“This was an extremely traumatic incident, not just for Mr Marshall, but for his colleagues as well.  It was also easily preventable.  Had the risks been properly assessed by Kybotech Ltd, they would have identified the need to improve the existing guarding so that any openings were of a size that prevented a person’s hand being drawn in.

“This case highlights the importance of ensuring dangerous machinery is properly guarded.”

The Human Risk factor


February 2015 NEWSLETTER
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Care home resident dies

The owner of a Leicester care home has been fined £100,000 after Walter Powley, a vulnerable 85-year-old resident, died from serious burns.

Four days after becoming a resident, Mr Powley fell in his room and became trapped between a wardrobe and a radiator. He suffered serious burns to the tissue of his right leg from the radiator pipe and valves, and superficial burns to both legs probably from hot water leaking from the valve. He died in hospital from his injuries eight days later.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated; the findings are shocking

The human factor associated with fire risk

A new fire risk management system specification (PAS 7) has been developed in conjunction with leading figures in the fire industry, to help to reduce human failings and poor management that so often contribute to the risk of fire.

Fire prevention is primarily seen as a case of dealing with the procedures associated with fire management and assessing the associated risks.   The question is; does this emphasis on physical measures miss the point?

Asbestos failure in Colwyn Bay leading to fines

A court has heard that businessman, Peter Rees allowed the spread of asbestos in an industrial building by not employing licensed contractors to remove the potentially deadly material.

Llandudno Magistrates’ Court heard on the 21st January that after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) clear failings were identified with his management of the material.

Myth-busting by the HSE

The HSE Myth Busters Challenge Panel provides a mechanism to independently challenge potentially disproportionate or inaccurate advice or decisions, made in the name of health and safety.

“We think that communicating these decisions will help all our clients with a better insight into the ongoing ‘perception v’s reality’ arguments which appear in the media from time to time”.

Phil Jones

Disposal of dead batteries in a supermarket recycling container

Enquirer was in a supermarket attempting to dispose of dead batteries in a sealed plastic box that was normally located on Customer Services. After enquiring where it now was, they were told that because of health and safety they have to keep it in a cupboard.

Read the Panel’s decision HERE.

Managing Agent says a garden pond has to be fenced in

A residents association for a residential development of 75 dwellings has been told by their new managing agent that they must fence in the feature garden pond in the middle of the parkland grounds due to health and safety. The development has been like this for 25 years.

Read the Panel’s decision HERE.

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New figures underline importance of workplace safety

Safety watchdog the Health and Safety Executive is marking its 40th anniversary with an appeal for businesses to make the wellbeing of workers their top priority for the new financial year.


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Fire Risk Assessor is fined for advice given

A private fire risk assessor has been successfully prosecuted by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) for failing to carry out a suitable assessment.

Torquay Magistrates’ Court heard that Craig Richard Stonelake had been contracted to carry out a fire risk assessment at a large restaurant in Newton Abbot.  An inspection of the premises by DSFRS found that the assessment was unsuitable as it did not take into account the lack of adequate means of escape from the premises, lack of suitable fire doors, inadequate fire alarms system, and the presence of unsuitable firefighting equipment.

In addition, Mr Stonelake had also serviced the firefighting equipment at the premises when not qualified or trained to do so and failed to service the equipment to any appropriate standard.

DSFRS station manager Glen Wells said:

‘Anyone offering professional services to a premises, a business or a person has a responsibility and a duty of care to that business or person.  This responsibility is at its highest and most fundamental when that work has the potential to affect the health and safety of people or employees at that premises. In the case of fire risk assessments and the servicing of emergency equipment, failures may unnecessarily expose people to the risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire occurring.

‘Where that person, with a duty of care, has failed and should reasonably have known that they did not have the requisite training, qualifications or experience for that work compounds that failure. Sadly it would appear that this particular case is not an isolated one.’

Mr Stonelake appeared in court on 25 March and pleaded guilty to breaching s9 and s17 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. He was ordered to pay £7,383 towards fines and costs.

London Fire Brigade comment on Care Home safety

London Fire Brigade (LFB) say that all residential care homes should be fitted with sprinklers to reduce the number of fires, during Fire Sprinkler Week (16-22 March).

New figures just released show that there were

530 fires in care homes and sheltered accommodation in London in 2014, causing four deaths and 30 injuries

These are stark statistics that they say prove the need for sprinklers to be installed to protect vulnerable people.

Neil Orbell, LFB’s Head of Fire Safety, said:

“Older people, as well as people with mental health problems and those with mobility issues, are the group most at risk from fire and we are concerned by the number of vulnerable people like this who are still harmed or killed by fire in places where they should be safe.  That’s why we want to see all residential care homes fitted with sprinklers. The number and regularity of care home fires that the Brigade attendsis clear evidence that builders, developers, local authorities and private providers need to stop ignoring their benefits.

We believe that sprinklers are a potentially life saving tool that can be effective in stopping fires from spreading and putting them out quickly. By doing this they can also help reduce the numbers of deaths and injuries from fire, particularly in buildings occupied by people with reduced mobility. They also reduce the risks to firefighters.

The Brigade wants the same level of protection in the capital as in Scotland where there is already a requirement within Building Standards for all new build residential care buildings to have sprinkler systems installed.

Its Fifth London Safety Plan, which sets out how the Brigade will work up to 2016, includes a target to reduce fires in care homes and sheltered housing by 3% by March next year.  It also includes a commitment to campaign and promote opportunities for councils and housing providers to provide sprinklers as a cost effective way of saving property and protecting the lives of residents most at risk from fire.  Original source London Fire Brigade Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

Read our free Fire Safety factsheets for information on staying safe.