'Daredevil' scaffolder in court

Posted 07 Feb 2018

A ‘daredevil’ scaffolder has ended up in court threatened with a custodial sentence after he breached health and safety rules more than 60ft from the ground.

Terrance Murray faces jail after Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how he failed to connect his harness to the scaffolding or erect a rail to stop him falling whilst working on a Grade II-listed building in Manchester.

The worker’s dangerous activities were only brought to light when a retired Health and Safety inspector snapped a picture of him from a nearby building.

The 'daredevil' scaffolder, courtesy of MEN.

Whilst the image has sparked a debate about health and safety and the possible punishments for flouting the law, it has also brought up the often under-discussed issue of competency when working at height.

When employing someone to work at height, it is vital to ensure that they are competent. It’s important to know that just because somebody has been in the job for a number of years, it does not mean they are competent.

The HSE defines competency as: “a combination of the experience, knowledge and appropriate qualifications that enables a worker to identify both the risks arising from a situation and the measures needed to deal with them.”

It also states that: “Individuals working at height need to be trained in the selected system of work and any particular work equipment chosen. Managers should check that those doing the work are adequately trained.”

Though training does not always ensure the worker will continue to work safely and be competent, it does reduce the risk of the potentially dangerous workers making it into a position where they will be able to put themselves, and others, at risk.

There are a number of things you can do to ensure the competency of workers you employ:

  • Always make sure that those carrying out the work have appropriate health & safety training and that it is up to date
  • Check that the company is registered with a recognised assessment scheme such as CHAS, Constructionline and/or SAFEcontractor
  • Always ask to see evidence of training certificates and any relevant industry card schemes.

Whilst this does not make certain the person you hire will be competent, it will mean you are doing your bit to keep your site, or any site your workers might access, as safe as possible.

Remember, if you are in any way unsure about the competency or work practices of your staff or contractors, do not proceed, and instead seek professional advice.

Featured image courtesy of MEN.

by Carolyn Campbell

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