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SAEMA – Specialist Access Engineering and Maintenance Association – as the national trade body for the permanent and temporary façade access equipment industry, is keen to share the following report of an accident that occurred on site due to lack of safety measures being put in place prior to work commencing.

The director of a construction company has been given a suspended jail sentence after a subcontractor was injured by a toppling stack of plasterboards at a construction site in Thames Ditton, Surrey.

Brighton Magistrates’ Court heard how builders were moving sheets of plasterboard weighing 32kg each from the ground floor to the second floor of a house undergoing refurbishment.

As there was no staircase in place, they were stacking the plasterboard against an unsecured ladder and sliding them up to the floor above. During the process the plasterboards fell on one of the workers, fracturing his pelvis.

The incident took place on 12th April 2019. An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive found that there was no safe system of work in place and the workers were not being adequately supervised. The stairwell openings were not guarded and they were partially spanned with scaffold boards resting on insecure scaffold poles, creating a significant fall risk.

HSE inspector Andrew Cousins said after the hearing: “This was a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the director to devise and implement a suitable safe system of work.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those who fall below the required standards.”

SAEMA encourages adherence to safe and best practice for the provision of access to buildings and other structures for the purposes of cleaning and maintenance. We participate in the development of national and international standards and provide training for those who are tasked with working at height.

Our approach of ‘safety first’ should apply to all areas of the construction industry. Indeed this is the only way the sector will be successful in reducing accidents to zero, which is our ultimate goal.

Image: Elliott Brown

Colmore Gate – Construction Site – Site Safety

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