Worker falls carrying out high-level maintenance to lighting and heating

The Health and Safety Executive has successfully prosecuted EDF Energy Contracting following the death of a worker at a school in Worthing.

The company pleaded guilty at Chichester Crown Court to breaching regulations 4b and 4c of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £24,594.98.

The prosecution relates to an incident on 2 August 2007 when employee James Gordon was dismantling a mobile tower scaffold in the sports hall of Worthing High School in West Sussex. The scaffolding had been used to carry out high-level maintenance to lighting and heating appliances within the sports hall. At the time, EDF Energy Contracting was contracted by West Sussex County Council.

The top working platform had been removed and Gordon was on an intermediate platform when it appears that he stumbled. There were no handrails to save him and he fell more than five meters, suffering fatal head injuries.

James Gordon was 63 when he died and he was due to retire in two years’ time. He leaves behind a widow and a number of grandchildren.

HSE inspector Russell Beckett said: “It is important that all tower scaffolds are erected and dismantled correctly and that guard rails are fitted so as to prevent falls. All too often tower scaffolds are used incorrectly without the correct handrails.

"All working platforms must be provided with suitable edge protection. Guard rails should be at least 950mm high and an intermediate guard rail should be provided so that workers can’t fall through any unprotected gaps.”