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Director and supervisor culpable for scaffolder's death

29 May 12 A scaffolding firm, its director and a supervisor have been fined for safety failings after a worker died from injuries sustained in a fall at a construction site in East Sussex.

Incomplete scaffold platform
Incomplete scaffold platform

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Apex Scaffolding (Sussex) Ltd, its director, Michael Walsh, and supervisor Leslie Hustwayte for negligence and defects that contributed towards the incident on 10 August 2009.

Hastings Magistrates’ Court heard that Joseph Murphy, 31, from had been constructing a scaffold over-roof at Washington Avenue in St Leonards on Sea, when he fell.

The HSE investigation was unable to ascertain how far or why he fell, but it did identify a number of defects with the scaffolding at the site, including missing hand rails and incomplete scaffold platforms. Evidence of deficient working practices by Mr Hustwayte and a negligent safety culture within the company were also found.

Magistrates were told that prohibition notices had previously been served on Apex Scaffolding (Sussex) Ltd and on individual employees for unsafe working practices, but the poor attitude to safety in the organisation continued.

Apex Scaffolding (Sussex) Ltd, of Court House, Hooe, Battle; Michael Walsh, of King Edward Avenue, Hastings; and Leslie Hustwayte, of Asten Close, St Leonards on Sea, all pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) and Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 in relation to the safety failings.

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Mr Hustwayte also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 14(2) of the same legislation.

The company was fined a total of £3,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs for its failings, Michael Walsh was fined £1,500 with £2,500 in costs and Leslie Hustwayte was fined £2,000 with costs of £2,500.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said: "HSE and the scaffolding industry have worked together to produce easy to follow guidance to help contractors ensure their scaffolding is safe. So there is no excuse for compromising safety – as was clearly the case here.

"HSE takes firm action against individuals and contractors who ignore their health and safety obligations. It is essential that contractors and contract managers equip themselves with the necessary information and guidance material and apply it every time a scaffold is built."

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