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News added on 07.06.2019

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Toddler badly injured by falling timber

A three-year-old in a buggy was severely injured when a length of timber fell on her as it was being hoisted up the outside of a scaffold. How did such a terrible accident occur?

Scaffolding had been erected on the pavement of a Brighton street for refurbishment work being carried out on a flat above a restaurant. As a woman passed the scaffolding, pushing her daughter in a buggy, a length of timber was being hoisted. It broke loose and fell from a height of approximately ten metres, hitting the child on the head. She suffered severe head injuries and, although she has made significant progress, it is not yet known whether she will make a full recovery.

The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation found that the self-employed builder in control of the works, Mr Glowacki (G), had tied the length of timber to a rope so it could be hoisted up the outside of the building using a pulley system. However, the knot he used was not suitable, and the timber slipped out. G had not put an exclusion zone in place to avoid the load being lifted over people.

G pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that the lifting operation was properly planned by a competent person, supervised and carried out safely, as required by reg 8(1) Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 220 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay full costs of £5,727.92.

This builder made two crucial errors: the timber was not properly secured and there were no measures in place to protect people on the ground. Lifting loads over people should be avoided wherever possible, and in this case an exclusion zone would have kept pedestrians safe.

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