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Fines imposed following scaffolding fall death

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

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted them for negligence and defects that contributed towards the incident in 2009.

Hastings Magistrates’ Court heard Joseph Murphy had been constructing a scaffold over-roof when he fell. Precisely how far or why he fell remains unclear, but a HSE investigation identified a number of defects with the scaffolding at the site, including missing hand rails and incomplete scaffold platforms. Evidence of deficient working practices by the superviser and a negligent safety culture within the company were also found.

Magistrates were told that Prohibition Notices had previously been served on the company and on individual employees for unsafe working practices, but the poor attitude to safety in the organisation continued.

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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