BAM construction worker struck by scaffolding tubes
Principal contractor BAM Construction was fined after a worker on site was struck by scaffolding tubes during a lifting operation. It was found that the company had failed to minimise the need to lift over people.
The engineering firm was overseeing the construction of a multi-storey building in London’s West End when the incident occurred on 9th December 2015.
A tower crane operator was lifting a load of 50 1-metre long extendable transoms- horizontal poles that support scaffold boards- from a delivery lorry to an access platform on the third floor. A slinger signaller was guiding the move because the crane operators view was restricted, and he couldn’t see the platform or the lorry from his cab.
However, during the lifting operation Health and Safety Executive Stephron Baker Holmes said, “something went wrong”. The load which had been bound together in a stillage and then wrapped in lifting slings, hit the side of the access platform and tipped. Most of the scaffolding poles fell onto a gantry which was two storeys below and several struck a scaffolder, severely injuring him.
He said before the accident happened that there were no signs or barriers to prevent access to the area.
Immediately afterwards the company took action to prevent a reoccurrence. It installed a warning system comprising a flashing light to alert all workers if a slinger signaller had entered one of the platforms above.
BAM pleaded guilty to breaching section 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations, which requires employers to properly plan and supervise a lifting task and ensure it is carried out safely. It was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in January.
In applying the sentencing guidelines, District Judge Zani decided its culpability was low and based on the risk of harm created by the offence, identified the harm category as 3. He classed BAM, which in 2015 had a turnover of £897.5m, as a “very large” organisation and increased the starting point for the fine from £35,000 to £60,000 to reflect this. He then awarded full credit for the early guilty plea.
BAM was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £8,700 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE Baker Holmes said
“Construction companies should think carefully about how best to prevent loads being lifted over people who may be working in areas nearby. In some cases, it may be possible to restrict access to a particular area while lifting operations are being carried out above”