It’s always incredibly unfortunate to read about fatalities in the workplace, and one of the most unfortunate things when accidents relate to working at height is that the mistakes are often caused by nothing more than poor equipment management or badly implemented protocols.
The Meridian Quay Case
Self-employed father of two, Russell Samuel, died in January 2008 two days after falling from scaffolding on the site. At the time of the accident, Samuel was employed by Febrey Ltd as a scaffolder. Whilst dismantling a scaffold ladder access platform as instructed, Samuel fell 19m to the ground, narrowly missing Raymond Haines, a carpenter who was working directly below him.
Febrey Ltd and Carillion Construction were jointly prosecuted by the HSE for putting into place inadequate fall protection and height safety measures. They were found guilty of unacceptably low health and safety standards on site – standards that had been identified by health and safety consultants who notified the companies of their failings prior to the accident – and of failing to provide adequate working at height training for site managers and employees. In a sweeping judgement, the director of the company was found to have contributed directly to the death of Samuel through poor judgement and work safety failings.
As the controlling company, Carillion Construction was found guilty of breeching section 2(1) and section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) The company was fined £130,000 and ordered to pay £52,000 in costs. The judge said that although Febrey Ltd had been the company on site, Carillion had been warned of their failings repeatedly and not taken adequate steps to rectify the situation. Febrey was found guilty of the same charge but only fined £85 as the company has since gone into liquidation. The judge commented that a fine of £250,000 would have been issued had the company still been trading.
The HSE is a superb resource for companies like ours. The HSE website is packed with free information to help businesses stay on top of health and safety concerns 100%. In our game, that doesn’t just mean telling you to clip your safety harness onto the guardrail before unclipping from the ladder, it also means looking into cases like that of Russell Samuel to see if lessons can be learned.
A huge part of our job and that of companies like Febrey and Carillion is about using good judgement and following protocols. Health and safety regulations are in place to safeguard more than the lives of the people on the end of the fall arrest harness, they’re there to make sure the industry can thrive in an environment of reliability, safety and skill that should make cases like that of Russell Samuel a thing of the past.
If you want to talk to us about safety at height, get in touch today using the information on our contact page.