Two construction companies have been sentenced following an incident were a plastic working platform failed and a bricklayer using the platform was injured.
Durham Crown Court heard how, on 1 July 2019, Dere Street Homes Limited was acting as principal contractor and provided components for a proprietary polypropylene working platform at a new build at Marley Fields, Wheatley Hill, County Durham.
SGS Construction & Design Limited were acting as a contractor and supplied workers to erect the working platform. The working platform failed and a worker was injured.
An investigation by the HSE found that a number of components were missing from the working platform. Although previously workers supplied by SGS were formally trained in the erection of the components to form a safe working platform, the worker who erected the failed platform had not received adequate training.
The signing off as a safe working platform had earlier been undertaken by a site manager working for Dere Street Homes. When this manager left, a number of months prior to the incident, the inspection and signing off of the working platform was no longer undertaken.
Dere Street Homes Limited of The Farm House, Hedley Hill Farm, Cornsay Colliery, County Durham pleaded guilty to breaching the CDM Regulations and was fined £38,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,367.30.
SGS Construction & Design Limited of County Durham also pleaded guilty to breaching CDM Regulations and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,683.60.
After the hearing, HSE principal inspector Rob Hirst commented: “Although the worker did not suffer life-changing injuries, there was a potential for more serious injury.
“Those in control of work have a responsibility to ensure that workers are adequately trained, properly supervised, and work activities are appropriately monitored.”
Tony Seddon, Managing Director of FASET, the established trade association and training body for the temporary safety systems industry. Commenting on the recent accident, Tony said: “Having looked in detail at what happened at the site in County Durham it is clear that the accident didn’t occur because of a fault in the material of the platform.
“This is the result of a lack of adequate training, supervision and crucial missing components. We cannot stress enough the vital importance of only ever using an installer of working platforms who is fully trained. Furthermore, the working platform must be proven and tested and it is vital never to mix components from two or more systems as this could have serious safety implications.
“Ideally, we advise that contractors use a FASET-trained installer, working for a FASET Corporate Member and using a proven and tested FASET Member’s system.”