Worker Sustains Injuries from Avoidable Ladder Fall

An accident which took place on a construction site in Leicester in The United Kingdom was both unfortunate and unnecessary because the incident was totally preventable. A worker was injured when he fell off a ladder on the site, when instead he should have been standing on scaffolding.

Scaffolding would have removed the risk of working from a ladder. It is obvious that either a hazard identification and risk assessment did not take place or it did take place but its findings were ignored. It is important that once employers identify hazards and assess the risk associated with them, these hazards be eliminated if necessary. In this case it was necessary and feasible to remove the hazard of the ladder, and replace it with something less hazardous, in this case the scaffold however this was not done which subsequently led to the injury of the worker.

The incident resulted in the builder being fined after the workman suffered multiple injuries after tumbling 6metres to the ground while repairing a window on the second floor of a building.

Read what happened according to an excerpt from a post on

ladderguideThe injured man was working from a ladder extended to just below the window. When climbing down the ladder he fell from the ladder to the patio below. He was airlifted to hospital with head injuries, five fractures to his spine and a fractured pelvis and wrist.

Leicester Magistrates were told that the incident happened when the worker was cutting out and replacing the sill and glazing on a small window in the second floor attic gable wall. HSE investigators found a suitable tower scaffold was on site that could have been used to remove the risk of working from a ladder.


The company was fined and ordered to pay costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulation however this does not make up for the fact that the worker has suffered serious pain and suffering as a result of the incident.

Authorities later explained that the worker was so seriously hurt that he had to use a walking frame and was unable to climb stairs for five months. The course of his life has been altered by this and he will never be able to return to his normal job, all this despite the fact that the incident could have been avoided.

What makes this case even worse is that there was suitable equipment on site and the principal contractor who was in control of the work had a responsibility to make sure that it was put in place.

Principal contractors should not assume that they do not need to be concerned about the safety of casual workers on site. Whether workers are permanent, temporary or casual, experienced or apprentice workers, employers have a responsibility to provide them with a safe system of work and safe work environment.

These workers also need to be trained on general construction safety training. Luckily the White Card can be completed conveniently online with minimal expense.

Check out more safety related articles for construction workers


Scaffolding Collapses at Gold Coast Shopping Centre

Scaffolding has collapsed at a shopping centre on the Gold Coast which has triggered a series of safety inspections across the state.

The workplace health and safety authority Queensland is currently investigating the cause of the collapse. Luckily no one was injured in the incident. Authorities have warned that the safe erection and dismantling of scaffolding is a particularly important issue which contractors need to be aware of. Read what happened according to a post from

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland are investigating, along with the construction company, why scaffolding that was a part of a new car park collapsed on Sunday.

All work has been stopped at the site until the investigation is complete, there was nobody injured on in the collapse.

David Hanna, the Builders Labourers Federation state secretary, said that scaffolding on projects in the state will be checked.

He said that this incident highlights the need for safe and correct erection and dismantling of scaffolding. The incident could have been a disaster if it had happened on a work day or if somebody walking or driving by had been injured.


When attempting to avoid collapse of scaffolding, select and install scaffolding components that are suitable for the task at hand and take into consideration the sequence of the construction processes.

Principal contractors should provide and maintain adequate means of attaching the scaffolding to the supporting structure so that it can withstand heavy wind, workers weight and movement etc.

Employers need to develop a safe system of work which is one that allows construction activities such as bricklaying, painting, installations etc. to be completed without any unplanned changes to the scaffolding and does not require the removal of scaffolding ties.

Work should occur in the correct sequence for example from top to bottom of the building which will allow the scaffolding to be progressively dismantled as work progresses.

Never overload the scaffolding with excessive amounts of materials, be aware of the weight limits of scaffolding structures.

Ensure that the scaffolding is able to withstand any anticipated loads or forces such as strong winds or storms.

Adequate ties and sufficient bracing are vital to ensuring the stability of scaffolding.

To prevent collapse of the scaffold, to secure vertical members together laterally and to automatically square and align vertical members, scaffolds must be braced by:

  • Cross-braces,
  • Horizontal braces,
  • Diagonal braces, or
  • A combination of braces

To prevent movement of the scaffold while it is being used in a stationary position, scaffold casters and wheels must be locked with:

  • Positive wheel locks, and/or
  • Wheel and swivel locks, or
  • Similar means

Scaffolding should only be erected and dismantled by competent workers, trained to do so.

Workers on construction sites remember:

  • You have a right to request safety equipment appropriate for working on or near scaffolding.For workers on the ground near suspended platforms, they should have hard hats and proper clothing and footwear to shield them from falling objects that can be dropped off platforms.
  • Workers on the scaffolding should wear the proper fall protection equipment, check that it is functional, and not wearing out before starting their work

Construction Safety Induction Course


Construction Hazards a risk to more than just Workers

Safety when it comes to construction is an important issue not only because it has serious consequences for the success of the project and the safety of the workers on site but also because activities on site may have repercussions which affect the general public as well.

An incident which happened on a busy British city street recently highlighted how dangerous construction work can be for pedestrians and drivers in the vicinity of the construction site. Pedestrians and drivers were lucky to have escaped the incident which resulted from the collapse of scaffolding onto a busy West London street.

As the scaffolding collapsed onto the busy street below, it narrowly missed a number of pedestrians walking by and a number of cars driving past.

According to an article on the company involved were prosecuted after the scaffolding collapsed onto the street in 2011, narrowly missing pedestrians and traffic. The case was held recently and the article on reported about the incident:

scaffoldcollapse15Westminster Magistrates heard (10 July) the firm (now in liquidation) was principal contractor for the demolition and build project in Fulham. The 16m long scaffold collapsed at lunchtime on a normally busy thoroughfare a short distance from a nursery and local schools.

HSE told the Court that the firm failed to properly manage the demolition phase of the work. The scaffold had been on site for 12 month and left free-standing long after demolition had finished.

The site had been left unattended for long periods and regular inspections of the scaffold for safety had not taken place.

Regular inspections of scaffolding are essential

Alliance Building & Contracting Ltd, of Monument Hill, Weybridge, was found guilty in their absence of a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. Magistrates imposed a fine of £10,000 with costs of £7,190.


The construction company involved is lucky the consequences were not more serious. As an employer or employee on a construction site you have a responsibility to ensure that the strictest controls are adhered to, from erection to dismantling.

If proper safety is not being followed, employees should report the matter immediately as it poses a risk to all workers on site as well as to the public.

Make sure a competent formwork designer/manufacturer/supplier designed the formwork system. The contractor should have erection design drawings and specifications for the formwork system to be constructed. A copy of the design drawings and loading calculations should be available on site. The building’s design engineer must specify when the formwork can be dismantled.

Also consider whether the formwork deck has been safely laid. The method used to lay and secure the form ply must protect the workers from falling.  When required to work from the formwork, it should have a full deck of scaffold planks and safe access.

In addition ensure that an experienced structural engineer should inspect the formwork system before concrete is poured. An inspection certificate should be supplied by the engineer to verify the structural integrity of the structure and formwork system.

Remember:  Construction site safety starts with getting a White Card – you can get yours from


Construction Industry: Remember Scaffolding Controls

Employers in the construction sector need to ensure that when work from heights is being undertaken, the proper fall protection and control measures are implemented to avoid workers plummeting to their deaths.

Although the incident occurred in another country, England, the principles it highlights are universal, especially considering that falls from heights are the leading cause of fatal injuries in the construction sector in both The UK and Australia.

The deceased man was involved in the erection and dismantling of scaffolding and inadvertently stepped onto a skylight. The skylight subsequently broke under his weight and caused him to fall 13 metres to the ground below. The worker was rushed to the hospital however he died on arrival. The company failed to provide workers with a safe work environment and safe system of work by not arranging for load bearing covers to be put over the skylights to avoid incidents such as this, therefore failing in their responsibilities.

This excerpt from explains what happened on that unfortunate day:

fragiledeathscaffolder2S&S Scaffolding Ltd has been ordered to pay more than £100,000 in fines and costs following the death of a workman who fell 13m through the roof of a Merseyside warehouse in December 2010. Tony Causby, 42, was helping to dismantle scaffolding when he stepped onto a fragile rooflight and fell to the floor below.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Mr Causby was involved in erecting the scaffolding at the end of October ahead of work to replace damaged cladding and guttering on the roof. He returned to the site on 14 December as part of the dismantling team, although he was employed by S&S Scaffolding as a labourer rather than a scaffolder.

Mr Causby returned to the roof with another labourer after a lunch break when he stepped on the skylight, which broke and gave way. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The court was heard there were some 80 fragile skylights on one half of the roof. However, the company failed to arrange for load bearing covers to be put over skylights nearest to where persons were working.


Investigations found that the company involved were fully aware of the dangers yet failed to guard against them.

The employer’s neglect of safety directly resulted in the death of the worker because they failed to protect him from the risks associated with working from heights, despite this being such a problematic issue to the industry.

Investigators reiterated that it would have been relatively easy to cover the fragile skylights near to where the employees were working to prevent anyone from falling through if they accidentally stepped on one. This is a hazard that should have been identified quite easily and controlled equally as easily.

The company could have even placed netting or crash nets under the skylights to reduce the likelihood of an injury if workers fell.

Other employers should look at this incident as an example of what to avoid when scaffolding work and work from heights is being undertaken in order to avoid a similar outcome.



White Card Information Update: Scaffolder Safety

Source: Elliott Brown

Workers engaged in work on, near or under a scaffold as well as those tasked with erecting scaffolding on construction sites are exposed to a number of dangers in the structures erection and for the duration of its existence on the site. It is vital that the people that erect the scaffold are trained and certified to do so.

Although work from any height above 2 meters is dangerous ad can present a falling risk, scaffolders can fall from incomplete scaffolds during their erection and dismantling.

During its erection and removal in particular, scaffolders face the risk of falling from the open sides or ends of the scaffold and in climbing from one lift of the scaffold to the next lift.

Risks Involved with Scaffolding Work include:

  • Scaffolding Collapse: There is the chance that scaffold will collapse and injure workers on the structure as well as under it. The collar locking mechanism on scaffolds can be a hazard if operators do not engage the lock correctly and we have seen a lot of incidents of this nature occurring. This type of hazardous locking system is being progressively phased out in favour of an adjustable leg that has a compression-locking device. This type of locking system engages when a weight is applied to the assembled scaffold this method is favoured as it will save collapsing of the scaffold under the weight of workers.
  • Erecting or Removing Scaffold: Scaffolding risks are presented by internal falls, that occur  during the placement or removal of scaffold plants, from the open sides or ends of the scaffold known as an external fall or when climbing from one lift of the scaffold to the next lift known as a climbing fall.
  • Falling:The risk that occurs most often when working with scaffolding is the risk of external falls. This type of incident has been reported more than most other falls from scaffolding so this is what we will discuss in this post.
  • Climbing: Another risk is presented when workers climb the scaffolding. Ensuring that an appropriate access system is in place can control the risk of climbing falls for scaffolders gaining access from one lift to the next, either in the form of a stairway or ladder access that is progressively installed as the scaffold is erected.  Employers should ensure that the practice of scaffoldersclimbing the scaffold framework is strictly forbidden as this is extremely dangerous and can result in serious injury.

The risks involved with scaffolding can be controlled or managed using a combination of techniques which involves  sequential erection.

The risk of external falls from the open sides and ends of a scaffold can be controlled by adopting the “sequential erection” method. According to this method only one-bay-at-a-time is erected, sequential installation of standards and guardrails or guardrails alone. This ensures that scaffolders are not required to walk further than one bay length along an exposed edge of a scaffold platform thereby reducing the risk of falling. Dismantling involves reversing the sequence. Fully deck each lift and use the sequential erection method to progressively provide access as the scaffold is built.

There’s a stack of useful construction safety articles here


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