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Written by
on 01 March 2013


A member of the public was injured after she walked into a metal pole that wasn’t guarded properly in January 2011. The pole had been put there by a self-employed scaffolder, Thoman Hannen. The Argyll and Bute Council hired Mr Hannen to put up scaffolding at the Royal Hotel, which was not being used at the time. The scaffold was required so the council could take a look over the building to see what its current condition was.

Scaffolding Safety Failure

Mr Hannen and two of his workers were erecting the scaffolding when the incident occurred. Sadly there was some serious health and safety failings, the main one being the lack of redirection or information for pedestrians walking on the street below.  The pathway should have been closed off from the public for their own protection.

When the council surveyor arrived on the site later on in the day he pointed out that there was a pole in the way of the pavement and he told Mr Hannen he needed to make sure that people were safe.  Mr Hannen moved the pole and placed it in an upright position at a height of 1.5 metres above the ground. However he failed to place padding on the pole or increase its visibility or make a sign to ensure the public were aware of the pole and the possible danger. Later on a woman was walking beneath the scaffold and she struck her head on the pole. The 61 year old fell as a result and broke her ankle. The pole caused a nasty head injury and so she had to go to hospital to have stitches and to have her ankle treated.

Fined for Breaching a Regulation of the Health and Safety at Work Act

The Health and Safety Executive investigated and they found several areas where Mr Hannen had failed to comply with the law:

  • The local authority building standards officer had offered to have the public footpath closed but Mr Hannen failed to take up the offer
  • Mr Hannen failed to competently complete a risk assessment
  • Create a diversion for members of the public
  • Put up warning signs for the public
  • Failing to tell his workers to pad the pole or add tape beneath the scaffolding

As a result Mr Hannen was taken to court where he pleaded guilty for breaching section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was fined £1,670 at Rothesay Sherriff Court on 11th February 2013.

Health and Safety consultants can work will self-employed construction workers or small to medium sized businesses to ensure they are fully aware of their legal responsibilities and have health and safety management under control. If you require assistance to ensure you are not breaking the law call us on 0800 1488 677 and ask about our construction health and safety services.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.