Scaffolding Video - NSFW (Not Safe For Work) in the Literal Sense!

Scaffolding Video - NSFW (Not Safe For Work) in the Literal Sense!

06th October 2015

Although we have stringent health and safety at work regulations here in the UK and accidents at work are actually on the decrease, working at height still poses more risks than just about any other type of work. In fact, the latest statistics clearly show that most fatal accidents in the workplace in the UK involve falling from a height.

The government has set targets under the Revitalising Health and Safety Initiative to reduce injuries in the workplace and the latest figures show that the rate of both fatal and over-three-day accidents in the UK is substantially lower than in most European Union countries apart from Sweden and Ireland.

Despite all of the precautions and advice available to construction companies in the UK, we recently came across a pretty shocking case that has resulted in a scaffolding contractor being prosecuted for repeatedly allowing unsafe work at height to be carried out on a busy London thoroughfare. Pearsons Scaffolding was prosecuted by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a member of the public became concerned about scaffolding work being carried out on Tavistock Street in Central London. The lady in question was so worried about the safety of passers-by and workers on the fifteen metre high scaffold that she took photos and video to pass to the HSE.

If you take a look at the video you’ll probably be shocked by what you see.

The subsequent investigation involved two site visits from the HSE and it was discovered that the incomplete scaffold had been badly erected and that unsafe work practices were putting workers at risk. There were no measures in place to prevent any falling scaffolding equipment hitting people walking below, putting members of the public at risk as well as workers.

Although the HSE served a Prohibition Notice ordering the cessation of all work until the scaffold was made safe, Pearson Scaffolding ignored this notice and carried on with the work. The company also failed to respond when asked to produce documents for inspection during the investigation which hindered the efforts of the HSE to ensure that future work was carried out safely at other sites. In fact, Pearson Scaffolding’s involvement at the site only ended when a second Prohibition Notice was issued and the Principal Contractor on the project in question hired another scaffolder to complete the work.

Pearson Scaffolding, namely in the person of Greg Pearson, eventually pleaded guilty to safety breaches at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and was given two suspended prison sentences of 10 weeks to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay costs of £200 and a victim surcharge of £80. Following the hearing, HSE Inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said that Pearson “blatantly disregarded all warnings and enforcement action taken against him and it was just good fortune that no one was killed”.

It’s hoped that this case will demonstrate to other scaffolders just how seriously reckless working practices are viewed and that the courts will dish out robust sentences to those who transgress the health and safety legislation here in the UK.