30 October 2014

Fatal fall shows risks of unsafe work at height, says PASMA

Fatal fall shows risks of unsafe work at height, says PASMA

PASMA, as the industry body for prefabricated mobile towers, has urged caution when selecting and engaging scaffold companies after a fall from an unprotected tower led to the death of a scaffolder and a 15 month jail sentence for a business owner.

HSE enquiries found that Mark Hayes, who owns a scaffolding business in Kent, did not do enough to prevent the fall that killed 25 year old scaffolder Grant Dunmall. The tower was put up without guardrails, with nothing done to prevent a fall or mitigate the results of one.

The association noted that, although it is not clear from the report that the tower was a prefabricated tower, nevertheless the tower’s assembly was a key factor in the fall, which if it had been assembled correctly, could have been avoided.

The association has established a special category of membership with demanding assessment and ongoing requirements to ensure that only those companies with appropriate experience, management systems and a skilled workforce are approved to provide hire and assembly services for prefabricated access towers. 

The clear message from the association is that its Hire & Assembly members are committed to maintaining these high standards and to ensuring that the workforce is trained to PASMA’s demanding Towers for Riggers training standard which is an intensive, modular theoretical and practical training course covering advanced prefabricated tower assembly.

PASMA’s Managing Director, Peter Bennett, said: “This case shows everything that is risked by unsafe work at height. The person working at height tragically lost his life, and the person responsible for the safety failings has been fined and imprisoned.

“People need to know the risks they are taking, and learn how to avoid them. The HSE has called this tragedy completely preventable; learning how to manage tower use safely is vital to stopping these senseless deaths. The strict criteria PASMA places on Hire and Assembly members exist to help avoid the danger of anyone working on badly built equipment.”

After the fall, Mr Hayes originally ignored the HSE’s notice to supply documents related to his management of the work, and was fined £12,000 with costs of over £5,500. The paperwork eventually led to the conclusion that he should have acted to prevent the fall.

HSE inspector Jack Wilby said: “[Mr Hayes’] systems and procedures for safely managing work at height were sorely lacking, and fell short of the standards expected from a competent scaffolder.

“The bottom line here is that Mr Dunmall was killed in a preventable fall that could have been avoided.”

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