Suspended jail term for unsafe work at height

22 February 2018

Image: Wichai Wongjongjaihan/

A scaffolder has been found guilty of working at height without suitable and sufficient safety measures in place.

Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 30 June 2017, Terrance Murray was witnessed erecting scaffolding in an unsafe manner by a concerned member of the public.

Photographs were taken of Murray standing on top of the scaffold in Quay Street, Manchester, with no edge protection and no harness attached to any part of the scaffold or building.

The fall height was estimated at between 13 and 18 metres. If he had fallen from this height into the concrete deck of the car park below there is a high probability that he would have sustained fatal injuries.

An investigation by the HSE found that Murray’s employers had taken reasonable steps to avoid working unsafely at height. Murray was well trained and experienced and had the correct equipment available to work safely. He acted alone against his better interest and training to work without edge protection and safety measures in place.

He was also accompanied by a trainee scaffolder at the time and so was setting an unsafe example.

Murray, of Largs Road, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for one year and 100 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £115.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Seve Gomez-Aspron said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and should be taken seriously.

“This case highlights the importance of following industry guidance in order to erect scaffolding in a safe manner, which does not cause risk to members of the public and workers using the scaffold. It also serves to remind employees that they have a duty to look after themselves.”


This type of case doesn't get shown enough - perhaps if workers realised that if they don't follow the method statements and risk assessments and safe systems of work that are provided then they will be held accountable in a court of law. Perhaps then cowboys and even professionals who are just trying to rush will start to think about the fact that these laws are there to protect everyone and are there for a purpose not just a piece of paper they sign before they start a job.

Mark green, 22 February 2018

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