A company has been fined after a 12-year-old slipped and fell off a scaffolding structure the business had erected.
The scaffold could be accessed from the ground by ladder. A ladder guard was the only measure preventing unauthorised access. However, it was plainly lacking as it only partly covered the ladder’s rungs.
The court heard that two boys climbed the ladder by placing their feet either side of the ladder guard. One boy climbed to the top 10-metre scaffold platform. The ladder slipped, causing him to lose balance and fall. The child suffered life-changing injuries.
Spokesperson, Health and Safety Executive
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the security arrangements to prevent access to the scaffolding, especially by children from a nearby school, were inadequate. Investigators also discovered:
- Consideration and rejection of other control measures had not been documented by the company.
- Children had been reported climbing on the scaffold on an earlier occasion.
The firm was charged with an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to work in a way that makes sure, so far as reasonably practicable, that people not in their employment are not exposed to risks to their health or safety. Contractor Westdale Services Limited pleaded guilty to breaking the 1974 Act. It was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay £22,310 in costs.
The HSE said: “The death or injury of a child is particularly tragic and a lot of thought must go into securing construction sites. Children do not perceive danger as adults do. The potential for unauthorised access to construction sites must be carefully risk assessed and effective controls put in place”.
It added: “This incident could have been prevented by removal of the ladder completely or installing an appropriately-sized ladder guard to cover the full width of the rungs”.