Scaffold work shocks watching safety inspector

Grant Prior 8 years ago

An Essex scaffolder and a labourer he employed stunned a watching HSE inspector with their unsafe working practices at a Chelsea property.

The inspector then had to call the police when the scaffolder became “hostile” towards him.

Christopher Harker, 35, from Epping, trading as C&H Scaffolding, was spotted clambering up and down the outside of a four-storey scaffold in Cheyne Walk on 20 March 2014.

He and his assistant also casually leaned through openings up to 10 metres above the ground and nonchalantly passed materials to each other that could have slipped and caused serious harm to anyone walking below.


Harker clambered down in full view of the inspector

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that there was a complete absence of any form of edge protection on the scaffold.

Neither worker was wearing a safety harness, there were no access ladders to some of the work areas and there were large gaps between the boards that also posed a significant fall risk.

Harker used a system where he moved boards from the upper and lower levels of the scaffolding depending on where he or the labourer were working, rather than ensuring that both areas were sufficiently boarded to begin with.

He also casually tossed objects and materials, such as scaffolding clips, to his colleague on the level below him.

The court was told that the police were required to attend the site because of Harker’s hostile attitude towards the HSE inspector.

It was only then that he accepted the risks he had created as the legal dutyholder responsible for the work.

He subsequently apologised unreservedly for his behaviour, complied with all aspects of the HSE investigation and vowed to undertake future scaffolding projects in a safe and legal manner.

Harker, of Epping, Essex, was fined a total of £800 and ordered to pay £577 in costs after pleading guilty to two safety breaches.

The relatively low penalty reflected the defendant’s limited financial means, early guilty plea and full co-operation throughout.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said: “The scaffolding work at Cheyne Walk posed a clear danger to the two workers as well as members of the public exiting the building under the scaffolding.

“The failings were abundantly obvious and trained scaffolder Mr Harker knew this, which is probably why he reacted in the manner he did.

“He was caught red-handed, panicked and tried to make the problem go away as he saw it.”

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