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Tue November 28 2023

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Learning the hard way that construction sites are not playgrounds

17 Apr 19 A contractor has been fined £160,000 after children were able to climb a scaffold on one of its sites – one boy fell and suffered life-changing injuries.

Cardiff Magistrates’ Court this week heard how, on 6th May 2017, two boys were able to climb the rungs of a ladder within scaffolding erected by Westdale Services Ltd at Southville Flats, St David’s Road, Cwmbran, by placing their feet either side of a ladder guard that did not cover the rungs of the ladder. One 12-year-old climbed to the top platform of the scaffold and climbed the uppermost ladder to a height of approximately 10 metres. When the ladder slipped, the boy lost his balance and fell to the ground.

He needed multiple operations as a result of his injuries and now has no bladder or bowel control and is able to walk only short distances due to being unstable on his feet.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the security arrangements for preventing access to the scaffolding, especially by children from a nearby school, were inadequate.

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Westdale Services Limited is a specialist rendering and solid wall insulation contractor based in Doncaster, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay £22,310 in costs.

HSE inspector Michael Batt said after the hearing: “The death or injury of a child is particularly tragic and a lot of thought must go into securing construction sites. Children do not perceive danger as adults do. The potential for unauthorised access to construction sites must be carefully risk assessed and effective controls put in place. This incident could have been prevented by removal of the ladder completely or installing an appropriately sized ladder guard to cover the full width of the rungs.”

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