61-year-old woman walks into scaffold pole

Grant Prior 11 years ago

A 61-year-old woman suffered head injuries after walking into an unguarded scaffold pole in Scotland.

Rothesay Sheriff Court heard that Thomas Hannen was contracted by Argyll and Bute Council in January 2011 to erect scaffolding around the disused Royal Hotel on Rothesay seafront, on the Isle of Bute.

Hannen and two employees began erecting the scaffolding. Members of the public were not excluded or actively discouraged, from using the pavement beneath the work area.

A council surveyor visited the site and drew Hannen’s attention to an upright scaffolding pole that was obstructing the pavement.

As a result, a scaffolding pole was placed horizontally between two of the upright poles at a height of about 1.5 metres above ground level.

No padding or warning tape was wrapped around.

Later that morning, a 61-year-old local woman walking underneath the scaffolding, hit her head on the horizontal pole.

She was taken to hospital with a head injury which required stitches and fractures to her left ankle caused by her falling as a result of her impact with the pole.

An HSE investigation found that Hannen failed to:

  • take advantage of the offer made to him by the local authority building standards officer to have the footpath where he was working temporarily closed;
  • complete any risk assessment or, alternatively, any risk assessment that was completed appears to have been wholly inadequate and did not guard against risk to pedestrians;
  • erect a scaffold on a pavement with any diversion in place to exclude members of the public from the work area;
  • display any warning signs alerting the public that it was dangerous to be in the work area such as putting padding or warning tape around any of the scaffolding poles prior to the incident;
  • instruct his workers to attach padding or tape around the scaffolding under erection.

Hannen of Rothesay was fined £1,670 after pleading guilty to safety breaches.

After sentencing, HSE Inspector Gerry Muir, said: “This was an awful accident to a member of the public that could easily have been avoided had Mr Hannen taken some simple, readily available precautions.”


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