10 September 2014

'Not on Your Life': the next phase

'Not on Your Life': the next phase

‘Not on your Life’, a new campaign on the dangers of using unsafe towers launched by industry body PASMA earlier this year, entered its next stage in June with a CoreSkills+ talk at the Safety & Health Expo focusing on the issue.

The campaign aims to show the importance of only using properly assembled towers and those certified  to the European standard BS EN1004 over often cheap and potentially dangerous alternatives – saying that “your life or the lives of others may depend” on using the right tower.

Unsafe tower equipment’s use was brought into sharp relief when falls from these towers resulted in a number of deaths and serious injuries, leading the HSE to open an investigation and support PASMA in producing a leaflet to kick off its campaign.

Peter Bennett, PASMA’s Managing Director, said: “Dangerous work at height is far more common than it has to be, as using safe equipment can prevent many of the issues that repeatedly come up, such as not fitting proper platforms and guardrails. Simply using an EN1004 tower can make all the difference when it comes to a site’s safety.

“This campaign aims to show that it isn’t just about fines and figures, but about lives. Falling from height kills more people than anything else in the workplace, which is why the campaign warns people using towers that their lives and the lives of others may depend on only buying or hiring a safe tower.”

There are many examples of people whose falls could have been prevented by using safe towers. Robert Wilkin was paralysed when he broke his back last year after falling from a second-hand scaffold tower put up by an untrained builder.

An EN1004 tower could have easily prevented the structure being used in the unsafe way that led to the fall. Safe towers are designed to avoid anyone ever having to stand on an unprotected platform.

Mr Wilkin said: “I don’t remember much about what happened after I fell. Lots of people were rushing about and it took the ambulance crew about 20 minutes to get me onto a back board because I had fallen in an awkward place between pallets of bricks.

“My life has been ruined because I can no longer do the things I used to do. I can’t go out on my own or drive. I feel my freedom has been taken from me and it’s been really hard on my family.”

Another example of the unsafe work carried out on non-EN1004 towers involved a boy standing on scaffolding with his father, six metres up on a non-EN1004 tower with wide open unprotected spaces he could easily have fallen from.

The tower was not fitted with proper platforms, built-in access or guardrails. At one point the man had to help his 10 year old son onto a too-short portable ladder above him by his ankles.

Children should not even be allowed on safe towers – work at height is obviously for competent adult workers, not children – never mind one from which it would have been so easy to fall. The HSE inspector ordered the man to come down and help his son off of the structure. Later the builder was fined, and sentenced with 80 hours of community service.

PASMA’s website has set up a new ‘Scaffold Towers’ section as part of the campaign. It outlines the facts about how dangerous unsafe work at height is, and gives simple and practical advice about how to keep safe, as well as offering a free Tower Safety Pack filled with essential information on buying and maintaining a tower.

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