This news article featured in Issue no. 16 of CHSP’s July – August 2022 newsletter.
It is often the case in health and safety related news, to read about the Employer or Organisation being reprimanded by the Courts, for Health and Safety breaches. With rarely any mention of the Workers themselves experiencing any repercussions. This gives the impression that a Worker cannot be prosecuted for their part to play in unsafe practices. However, this is not the case. CHSP made it a mission to find an example where the worker was held to task. As in the case with this news story, where a self employed Scaffolder Contractor showed disregard of their own safety.
A HSE Inspector witnessed Gary Roser, a Scaffolder balancing on scaffold tubes approximately 8 metres high without wearing a harness. He was working on a self-employed basis on behalf of Giant Scaffolding Ltd. Please see photo pictured above included as an example of unsafe scaffold practice, (please note photo is unlikely to depict Gary Roser picture relates to workers working on behalf of a contractor other than Giant Scaffolding Ltd). It transpired there was a safety harness made available on site but it wasnt being used.
Mr Roser was fined by Hastings Magistrates Court for admitting a breach of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 regulation 4(1) which sets out the following:
“Every employer shall ensure that work at height is (a) properly planned; (b) appropriately supervised and (c) carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable, safe.”
Mr Roser received a £750 fine and was ordered to pay £643 in costs proving a scaffolder worker can be held liable for unsafe practices that put themselves in danger.
The Company he worked for Giant Scaffolding was also fined £15,000 and £5,000 in costs under the same Work at Height Regulations 2005 regulation 4(1) after pleading guilty to the breach.
Work at Height Legislation & Guidance
The purpose of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 is to prevent death and injury caused by a fall from height. If you are an employer or you control work, for example a building owner or occupier that may contract others to work at height, the Regulations apply to you.
Scaffolders can refer to industry guidance on work at height such as NASC SG16:14 set out the requirement to have in place measures to prevent or mitigate falls from height.
Other legislation that can result in worker prosecutions
It is important for workers to be aware that there are two main ‘catch all’ pieces of legislation that are relevant to health and safety breaches of workers:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and
- The Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999
Therefore it is possible for workers to be prosecuted for failure to follow safe systems of work and use safety tools and equipment to keep themselves safe.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 sets out the following:
“It shall be the duty of every employee while at work—
(a) to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work; and
(b) as regards any duty or requirement imposed on his employer or any other person by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions, to co-operate with him so far as is necessary to enable that duty or requirement to be performed or complied with.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations states:
“Every employee shall use any machinery, equipment, dangerous substance, transport equipment, means of production or safety device provided to him by his employer in accordance both with any training in the use of the equipment concerned which has been received by him and the instructions respecting that use which have been provided to him by the said employer in compliance with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon that employer by or under the relevant statutory provisions”
Bottom line is it is the responsibility of everyone to keep themselves safe and it shouldn’t take the threat of a prosecution to make any of us want to do that not only for ourselves but to set an example to others working around us. Our actions can have consequences in ways we may never anticipate, like a ripple effect in water, and so in the case of health and safety practice, make it a habit and then it wont seem like a chore, like driving, it will become automatic. No-one is too experienced to do the right thing!