Sometimes industry groups do an excellent job of policing their industry when workers suffer preventable injuries. PASMA (the Prefabricated Access Suppliers' and Manufacturers' Association Ltd.), the UK industry group responsible for encouraging the “safe and proper use of mobile towers (scaffolding),” was quick to respond to the news of major and preventable injury resulting from a fall from height.
In a statement, PASMA noted that a number of basic safety precautions were not taken, and said that such accidents only can be prevented by ensuring that employees working on scaffolding as well as supervisors are trained and competent in their use.
The incident involved a 43 year-old West Derby man falling just two meters from moveable scaffolding in Liverpool, resulting in injuries including a brain hemorrhage and a fractured skull. Liverpool Magistrates Court learned that the damage to his brain has had a “long-term impact on his personality,” as well as requiring a long hospital stay. In addition to the head injury, he suffered a collapsed lung and broken bones, and has been unable to return to work.
The brakes on the scaffolding’s wheels were not engaged, causing it to move while workers were on it. There also were no guardrails to prevent a fall, and the scaffolding itself was made up of poor and damaged parts from different manufacturers.
“As the lead industry body representing the safe and competent use of mobile access towers, PASMA was shocked and disappointed to find that equipment in such shoddy condition was being used,” said PASMA’s Chairman, Roger Verallo. “This is a life-changing injury which could have been avoided with the selection of proper equipment and proper training. Users and supervisors must be trained to notice such simple problems as the lack of edge protection, as well as compliance with current health and safety regulations, and PASMA training is the best way to ensure achieving this.”
He added: “The equipment itself was not even in a safe enough state to use. It was a lazy solution for reaching the ceiling with no consideration for the worker’s safety or the suitability of the equipment being used, highlighting the dangers of a firm focussed on doing the job the quick and easy way instead of to industry standards.”
The employer responsible, CME Ceilings Ltd., has been prosecuted and charged £10,000 in fines and other costs, after pleading guilty of failing to ensure its employees’ safety, in breach of the Health and Safety at Work (etc.) Act - 1974.
The Health & Safety Executive, which brought the prosecution, said: “The scaffolding tower the company provided simply wasn’t up to the job and [the worker’s] life was put in danger the minute he started to climb it.”