The scaffolding company Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd has been fined for injuries sustained to one of their workers as they were found negligent in ensuring his safety.
In August 2013, James Whelan (31) was working for the scaffolding company Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd on a project to build an extension to a Sainsburys supermarket in West London. While working on the project, James was walking along an area between the new and old parts of the building when he stepped onto a section of the plasterboard that he believed was lying atop a walkway.
The plasterboard broke under his weight, causing James to fall seven metres. James was transported to hospital, where he was diagnosed with and treated for a bruised lung and fractures to his spine, pelvis, and ribs. James is still not fully recovered from the injuries sustained in the accident.
An investigation was launched by the HSE into the accident. They concluded that more could have been done to prevent James from falling. They stated that guard rails should have been provided for the walkway, and that fragile materials should not have been used as cover materials.
The HSE prosecuted James’ employers for breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The defendants admitted that they were negligent, thus causing the young man’s accident, they further stated that they had endeavoured to reduce the risk of a fall by limiting access to the walkway in question.
The company was fined £6,000 for the breach by Westminster Magistrates, and a further penalty of £1,428 in costs. The HSE inspector Gavin Pugh stated: “The hazards presented by fragile surfaces and open edges are clear, and it is common knowledge that falls from height account for almost half of all deaths and serious injuries on construction sites. As such, companies like Bowmer & Kirkland should be fully aware of what needs to be done to adequately protect workers”.
“The safety standards surrounding the walkway and fragile area fell some way short on this occasion, and it could have cost the scaffolder his life. He suffered painful injuries that still cause him pain and discomfort, but he could just as easily have been killed.”