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Worker's safety pleas ignored by South West London firm

14-06-2012

A former Croydon construction company has been prosecuted after a worker fell eight metres from a scaffold tower that he hadn’t wanted to build for safety reasons.

Green Acre Homes (South East) Ltd., which ceased to operate a year ago, failed to listen to the concerns raised by handyman John Morgan, who had been instructed to build a tower scaffold on a building site in Peckham.

Mr. Morgan, 44, of Roehampton, was finishing building the top of the tower on 25 November 2009 when a strong gust of wind sent it crashing to the ground. He plummeted some eight metres, fracturing his ribs and breastbone, compressing his vertebrae and wounding his head.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told (13 June) that an investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that Mr Morgan and a colleague were initially asked to erect the tower scaffold in an area that didn’t provide a stable base.

Despite protesting to site management they were told to continue. They improvised as best they could until a representative from Wandle Housing Association, the client company, saw it and ordered the tower to be taken down as it was unsafe to use

The court heard Mr Morgan was then told to build the tower in a second location. Again there was a space problem and again he and his co-worker raised concerns with managers about safety.

Once more Green Acre Homes failed to take any action and the workers went about building the scaffold tower. As it was nearing completion, Mr Morgan was at the top of the tower when high winds struck, sending the tower toppling to the ground.

Mr. Morgan was unable to work for three months. He now suffers persistent ringing in his ears and permanent scarring.

Magistrates were told that HSE progressed the case on behalf of Mr. Morgan despite the firm going into liquidation in August 2011 and because the prosecution sends vital messages to all industries about working safely at heights.

Green Acre Homes (South East) Ltd did not appear in court and were found guilty in their absence. Magistrates found the firm guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined a £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,969.

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