The Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association (PASMA) has recently taken the opportunity to comment upon two recent HSE prosecutions regarding working at height and mobile access towers. The first case relates to a tragic accident which took place in 2011 but has only recently been settled in court. James Baillie, 53, fell six metres from a faulty tower and his former employer, Extra Access Limited, has just been fined £40,000.
PASMA strives to ensure that its Hire & Assembly members adhere to a stringent audit process to make sure accidents of this type do not happen. Unfortunately, the company in question was not a member of PASMA, nor did it follow appropriate safety measures.
The tower being used was in a bad state of repair due to rot and decay, meaning that when Mr Baillie stepped onto it, it gave way causing the fatal fall. HSE Inspector, Graeme McMinn, stated that the tower should have been properly inspected beforehand, and if found to be faulty, should have been taken out of service altogether. PASMA is keen to stress that adhering to strict inspection practices and maintenance regimes is obligatory for PASMA Hire & Assembly members. Pre-inspection and general maintenance are key elements of proper working at height training and training specific to work platforms. A PASMA accredited training course will cover these important topics.
A Tragedy Avoided
The second incident did not have such a tragic outcome but easily could have. A routine HSE inspection of roofing work being carried out by James Young trading as Watertight Home Improvements found that the only means of protection for workers were two poorly positioned mobile tower scaffolds. In this case, the company was fined £1,500 and an additional £1,020 in costs. The real question, of course, is what could the real cost of such negligence be?
Not on Your Life!
PASMA’s Not on Your Life! campaign is currently promoting the use of towers which conform to European Tower Standard EN 1004, regardless of whether they are purchased outright or hired. This campaign also stresses the need to make sure that towers are assembled, maintained and used in strict accordance with industry standard safety guidelines.
This campaign has been underway since last year and has been developed alongside the Health and Safety Executive, as well as being supported by RoSPA and Hire Association Europe. PASMA wishes to highlight the dangers of using non-EN1004 mobile access towers, and the campaign was motivated by a number of serious accidents featuring H Frame/domestic towers.
A Constant Danger
Figures for the period 2012/2013 show that falls from height were the most common cause of fatalities, accounting for almost a third of fatal injuries to workers (31%). During the same period, various contractors and companies were found guilty of breaching health and safety regulations and fined a total of £2.1 million, with an average fine of £9,528 per offence.
For all of the reasons above, it is clear to see that using safe equipment; carrying out proper inspections and maintenance, and providing proper training for staff are all absolutely necessary in order to maintain a safe workplace.