A firm, its director and a supervisor have been sentenced for safety failings after a worker died from injuries sustained in a fall from scaffolding at a construction site in East Sussex.
Scaffold over-roof at Washington Avenue, St Leonards on Sea
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Apex Scaffolding (Sussex) Ltd, its director, Michael Walsh, and Leslie Hustwayte, a supervisor, for negligence and defects that contributed towards the incident on 10 August 2009.
Hastings Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday (25 May) that Joseph Murphy, 31, from had been constructing a scaffold over-roof at Washington Avenue in St Leonards on Sea, when he fell. Precisely how far or why he fell remains unclear, but a HSE investigation identified a number of defects with the scaffolding at the site, including missing hand rails and incomplete scaffold platforms. Evidence of deficient working practices by Mr Hustwayte and a negligent safety culture within the company were also found. Magistrates were told that Prohibition Notices had previously been served on Apex Scaffolding (Sussex) Ltd and on individual employees for unsafe working practices, but the poor attitude to safety in the organisation continued.
Incomplete scaffold platform
After the hearing, HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said:
"HSE and the scaffolding industry have worked together to produce easy to follow guidance to help contractors ensure their scaffolding is safe. So there is no excuse for compromising safety – as was clearly the case here. HSE takes firm action against individuals and contractors who ignore their health and safety obligations. It is essential that contractors and contract managers equip themselves with the necessary information and guidance material and apply it every time a scaffold is built."
Apex Scaffolding (Sussex) Ltd, of Court House, Hooe, Battle; Michael Walsh, of King Edward Avenue, Hastings; and Leslie Hustwayte, of Asten Close, St Leonards on Sea, all pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) and Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 in relation to the safety failings.
Mr Hustwayte also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 14(2) of the same legislation. The company was fined a total of £3,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs for its failings, Michael Walsh was fined £1,500 with £2,500 in costs and Leslie Hustwayte was fined £2,000 with costs of £2,500.
Further information on safe working practices and procedures in construction can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/construction. The section includes a comprehensive scaffolding checklist.