Andrew Gore, 37, from Mountain Ash in the Cynon Valley, had never had any recognised training. He was helping to dismantle scaffolding outside a nursing home in Merthyr Mawr Road, Bridgend, in June 2013 when he fell four metres to the ground.
The incident was investigated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted his employer, Mills Scaffold Company Ltd, at Bridgend Magistrates yesterday (23rd June).
The court heard that the scaffold, erected by Mills Scaffold Company, was three lifts high and Mr Gore was working on the second lift. Another scaffolder was on the lift above, passing down parts of the scaffold to him, which he, in turn, passed on to a labourer on the ground.
Mr Gore was not wearing a harness and the lift was just two boards wide. The firm had failed to put any guardrails in place. Mr Gore had undone the swivel coupling at the bottom of a brace, which he then inadvertently leaned on. The brace moved and he fell to the ground, causing severe injuries. Since the incident, he has spent most of the last year in hospital and undergone several operations.
The incident was only reported to HSE six months later, when he made an insurance claim after he had to have his lower leg amputated because of an infection following the injury. The company had previously been issued with a prohibition notice by HSE in 2012 for a similar offence.
HSE’s investigation found that Mr Gore had not been given training in the safe erection or dismantling of scaffolding.
Mills Scaffold Company Ltd of Church Street, Mountain Ash, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Work at Height regulations and Reporting of Injuries Regulations, as the incident was not reported to HSE. The company was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay £1,118 in costs.
HSE inspector Hayley Healey said after the hearing: “Mr Gore has suffered a great deal of pain and life changing injuries. As a single parent of two young children, one of whom he has custody for, his life has changed dramatically.
“This was a totally needless incident which could have been avoided if Mills Scaffold Company had ensured a safe system of work had been in place. And it was their responsibility to make sure trained workers were used on the scaffolding. There is plenty of industry guidance available about safely dismantling scaffolding.
“If simple methods of work had been followed, levels of competency checked and good supervision in place on site, this work could have been carried out safely. Falls from height remains one of the most common causes of fatalities and major injuries in the construction industry, with more than five incidents every day.”