The owner of a Camborne company who admitted putting his staff and members of the public at risk while erecting scaffolding at towns across Cornwall has been ordered to pay more than £16,000 in fines and costs.
Truro Magistrates Court found Anthony Dale, 26, of Tuckingmill, who runs Protec Scaffolding, had breached health and safety regulations over an eight month period,between March and November last year, despite warnings that he could face prosecution.
He had also put up scaffolding at four sites on busy streets in Helston, Camborne, and Penzance between August and November 2012 without a licence from Cornwall Council’s highway authority.
The court heard Dale, who started working as a scaffolder aged 15, had not applied for licences to put up the scaffolding on Bassett Street and College Street in Camborne, Chapel Street in Penzance and Coinagehall Street in Helston.
The Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation into the firm last March as a result of its unsafe practices at work.
Stephen Covell, for the HSE, told magistrates’ that HSE officials had CCTV footage of Dale’s staff putting up scaffolding without the use of harnesses, guard rails and boards to direct traffic and protect men working on the scaffolding.
In one incident on Chapel Street in Penzance, he said, the HSE saw a Protec employee putting up scaffolding without a guard rail to prevent him from falling and saw a large pole; used to stabilise the scaffolding, sticking out into the highway over double white-lines during its construction.
At Friday’s hearing Mr Covell said: “The pole was not marked red and white to warn motorists and was in the highway and could have been hit by a vehicle. A coach was seen reversing near the pole and it was a near miss and could have caused a serious incident or even caused the scaffolding to collapse. There were people on the scaffold and members of the public walking underneath. It was unsafe.”
As a result of the careless working practices the HSE served Dale with an improvement notice to ensure safe working practices. Last July they also wrote to him recommending staff training and scaffolding safety measures. However, he failed to tighten up his procedures and in February this year he was served with a prohibition notice.
“He repeatedly ignored warnings about the risks to his staff and members of the public. Between 2010 and 2011 there were 50 fatal accidents within the construction industry. A quarter of these were attributed to slips, trips and falls,” Mr Covell added.
Magistrates fined Dale £8,000 for contravening HSE regulations and £3,330 for obstructing the footpath without a licence. He was also ordered to pay £5,114, towards Cornwall Council’s and the HSE’s legal costs. They gave him full credit for his guilty pleas but said the fines could have been as high as £15,000.
Defending Dale, Alister Pilling, said he had launched Protec in 2007 and employed five people, including his brother and wife. He said during the past six years there had been general compliance with licensing regulations but said Dale had found it difficult to check on all of his sites dotted across the county to ensure they were meeting HSE standards.
He said the firm had now adopted much safer practices which meant they had to work more slowly which had forced Dale to put up his prices. As a result he has had to reduce his staff to three.