HSE said this photo from the BBC documentary footage shows the scaffold from which the mason fell in March 2005.

BBC Documentary Helps Convict Construction Company

The Health and Safety Executive said it prosecuted Regentford Ltd after one of its employees died in a March 2005 fall from scaffolding. That scaffolding was gone when investigators arrived, but the documentary footage showed it, and Regentford was fined $384,000 on April 6.

A conviction and $384,442 fine issued on April 6 against Regentford Ltd, an English construction company, may not have been possible had BBC cameras not been rolling in 2005 for a TV documentary named "Trauma" about medics at work. The Health and Safety Executive says the footage was crucial because it showed Balwinder Kumar, a mason and plasterer who worked for the company, had fallen from unsafe scaffolding when he was fatally injured March 1, 2005. Kumar, who was repointing brickwork at the time, suffered severe head injuries in the one-story fall and died at a hospital. By the time HSE investigators arrived, the scaffolding had been removed, according to HSE.

The agency said it obtained footage from the documentary that showed scaffolding "in very poor condition with insufficient guard rails and an inadequate working platform." No one had effective control of health and safety on the work site at the time of the fall, it said.

"The footage from the documentary crew showed that the scaffolding was totally inadequate for the job in hand. We will use all evidence at our disposal to prosecute employers who fail to manage health and safety risks properly," said HSE Inspector Nigel Evans. "Mr. Kumar needlessly lost his life on a small construction site, and it is these smaller sites where a significant proportion of fatalities in the industry occur each year.

"The message is simple: Whatever the size of company or site, you have exactly the same responsibility to make sure employees have a safe and healthy working environment -- and we can and will prosecute if these duties are neglected."

HSE offers information about scaffolding good practices here and here about its regulations for work performed at heights.

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  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January 2019

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