Tragic death of Maidstone worker
The need for proper planning and supervision of work at height activities has been tragically highlighted with the death of Justin Newitt, who fell five meters through an opening on the roof at Maidstone Studios Limited.
The incident happened after Mr Newitt accessed the roof using a mobile access tower that was intended for performing works below, not for climbing on to the roof. However, no formal planning had been recorded and there was no supervision on how the work was being carried out.
The conviction of Maidstone Studios Limited featured in a recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) press release, which also illustrated a lack of planning with regards to the condition the tower:
“The tower scaffold used to access the roof was damaged, had not been correctly erected and had been purchased second hand by Maidstone Studios Limited with no manufacturer’s instructions.
No-one identified the errors with the towers, ladder sections being the wrong way around, damaged bracing or the inadequate guardrails.”
The release also highlighted that Mr Newitt was not trained to erect the tower safely.
For PASMA this is a particularly distressing incident as the Association goes to great lengths to promote the safe use of mobile access towers.
PASMA Chair, Gillian Rutter, said: “This tragic incident could’ve have been avoided by putting basic checks and training in place. Although the company has been fined, it does not represent the loss Mr Newitt’s family and friends must live with. Everyone should be working safely at height - no exceptions.”
Maidstone Studios Limited has been ordered to pay over £36,000 in fines and costs for breaching the relevant sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
PASMA Managing Director, Peter Bennett, added: “This fatality underlines the need for work at height, however ordinary or routine, to be properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people.
The poor condition of the tower was another accident waiting to happen. Any item of work at height equipment should be subject of a pre-use inspection and the completion of a pre-use inspection record. Tower components should also be inspected at suitable intervals and a record kept of those inspections. You must also be trained and competent to build and dismantle a tower. Selecting, inspecting and maintaining the correct equipment is essential to safe working.”