Health and Safety breach lands scaffolder with suspended jail sentence

You might have read of a case recently where a Manchester scaffolder, who was photographed 18 metres up a building without a secured safety harness, ended up with a 26 month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Dangerous working practices

Manchester Magistrates Court heard that on 30th June 2017, Terrance Murray, 28, had been erecting scaffolding at a height of 18m without building a safety rail or taking any other precautions to prevent him falling.

His dangerous working practices were spotted by a former health and safety inspector who photographed and reported the incident.

The photograph clearly showed that although Murray was wearing a safety harness, it was not secured to anything. He was also setting an unsafe example to a trainee working on scaffolding below.

Murray was convicted of breaching Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, under which workers are obliged to “take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and other persons who may be affected by their acts and omissions at work”.

Duty to work safely

As well as the suspended prison sentence, the scaffolder was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and pay £615 in costs – all for what he himself described as “a moment of stupidity”.

The HSE’s investigation found that Murray’s employers had fulfilled their obligations by taking reasonable steps to avoid working unsafely at height; he had appropriate training and experience and had been provided with the correct PPE.

It’s a stark reminder of the grave consequences of failing to take responsibility for your personal health and safety, as well as that of others.

Speaking after the court hearing, HSE inspector Seve Gomez-Aspron said:

“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in this country and should be taken seriously.”

“This case highlights the importance of following industry guidance in order to erect scaffolding in a safe manner, which does not cause risk to members of the public and workers using the scaffold. It also serves to remind employees that they have a duty to look after themselves.”

Know your Health & Safety responsibilities

Health & Safety law has teeth – something this scaffolder found out to his cost.

As an employee, (whether you are employed by an umbrella company or directly), you are required to exercise reasonable care for your own health and safety and the people you work with.

You should be aware of and adhere to the health and safety policy and procedures at your specific site or workplace.

You should also report any concerns, hazards, injuries or ill health to your supervisor on the ground, or to Liquid Friday as your employer.


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