Prosecutions

NEWS: Scaffolder ‘worked 18m in the air without harness’

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A scaffolder photographed working 18m up in the air on a scaffold platform without guardrails or a safety harness has been handed a 26-week suspended jail sentence.

Terrance Murray, 28, admitted failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and others over the incident in Manchester in June 2017, which was witnessed and photographed by a former health and safety inspector.

Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard Murray was seen standing on the top level of the scaffold he was erecting at the Sunlight House office block on Quay Street, Manchester, with no edge protection in the form of horizontal guardrails and without attaching his safety harness to either the scaffold or the building.

Murray pictured on top of the scaffolding without attaching his safety harness.  

According to HSE, the fall height was estimated at between 13 and 18 metres, and, if Murray had fallen onto the concrete deck of the car park below, there is a high probability he would have been fatally injured.

HSE’s investigation found Murray’s employers had taken reasonable steps to avoid working unsafely at height and Murray had the correct equipment available to allow him to work safely. Murray was well-trained and experienced but had “acted alone against his better interest and training to work without edge protection and safety measures in place”, said HSE after the case.

Murray had also set an unsafe example to a trainee scaffolder working alongside him, said HSE.

Murray, of Largs Road in Blackburn, admitted breaching section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which requires people at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and others. As well as the 26-week prison sentence, suspended for a year, he was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and told to pay prosecution costs and a victim surcharge totalling £615.

Murray’s defence lawyer told the court the scaffolder’s actions appeared to be “a one-off moment of stupidity”, and there was “no evidence of this being part of an endemic practice”, according to the Manchester Evening News.

Commenting after the hearing, HSE inspector Seve Gomez-Aspron said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in this country and should be taken seriously.

“This case highlights the importance of following industry guidance in order to erect scaffolding in a safe manner, which does not cause risk to members of the public and workers using the scaffold. It also serves to remind employees that they have a duty to look after themselves.”

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