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Construction Firm Fined Following Fatal Scaffolding Fall

20th March 2024

A fatal incident at a Kent construction site, has brought the importance of competence, sharply into focus, with a West Malling-based construction firm being hit with a bill exceeding £100k.

Mark Tolley, a 51-year-old subcontractor, lost his life after falling from scaffolding at a construction site in Headcorn, Kent. The incident, which occurred on 5 July 2017, resulted in critical injuries for Mr Tolley, who tragically passed away a week or so after the incident. Investigations by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed glaring safety oversights by the construction firm, who was acting in the role of Principal Contractor for the project.

Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, it was found that the firm had not appointed a person with the necessary competence to manage the construction site, and the organisation also failed to ensure that a safe working platform on the scaffold was maintained throughout the different phases of the project. Access to and from the first lift working platform was unsafe, as multiple openings had been made, and these remained for several weeks. The openings were unguarded, and therefore there was a significant risk of falling from the platform.

The incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of adhering to industry guidance and regulatory standards in the construction industry. Principal inspector Ross Carter of the HSE  criticised the firm for failing to adapt the scaffolding to suit the requirements of each sub-contract activity. He said:

This tragic death could have been so easily avoided by implementing suitable site management to ensure that the scaffold was appropriately adapted by competent persons for the needs of the different sub-contractors.

This case highlights that principal contractors should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those who fall below the required standards and do not plan, manage and monitor the construction phase effectively.

Speaking of the incident, Dallas Cooper, Scaffolding Safety Advisor at SIMIAN, said:

This is another needless construction fatality. The simple reality is that incidents like these are simple to prevent with adequate planning and supervision, experienced workers and good levels of supervision.

Our experienced, scaffolding-qualified H&S Advisors can assist with implementing the required training and protective measures that are needed on site to prevent incidents of this nature. Call 0345 602 2418 or visit here for more information on our scaffolding support services, which are available to specifiers and scaffolding contractors alike.