Scaffolder prosecuted for accident in a public place

accident in a public place article depicted by Swain & Co with image of a wet floor sign in communal areaA self-employed scaffolder has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an accident in a public place left a woman with head injuries.

Thomas Hannen was contracted by the Argyll and Bute Council in January 2011 to erect scaffolding around a disused hotel on the seafront, on the Isle of Bute to allow the council to assess the building’s condition.

When Mr Hannen and two employees began erecting the scaffolding, members of the public were not excluded or actively discouraged from using the pavement beneath the work area.

A council surveyor visited the site and drew Mr Hannen’s attention to the fact that an upright scaffolding pole was obstructing the pavement. Before the council surveyor left the site he mentioned that the area was a busy pavement and that Mr Hannen should ensure that people were safe.

As a result a scaffolding pole was placed horizontally between two upright poles at the height of about 1.5 metres above ground level. No padding or warning was wrapped around the pole to soften inadvertent contact or make it easily visible to the public.

Later the same day, a 61 year old local woman was walking underneath the scaffold when she hit her head on the horizontal pole. She was taken to hospital with a head injury that required stitches and fractures to her ankles caused by her falling as a result of the impact with the pole.

The Health and Safety investigation found that Mr Hannen failed to:

  1. Take advantage of the council’s building standards officer’s offer to temporarily close the footpath
  2. Complete any risk assessment, or any risk assessment that was completed appears to have been wholly inadequate and did not guard against risk to pedestrians
  3. Erect a scaffold with any diversion on the pavement to exclude the public from the work site
  4. Display any warning signs alerting the public that it was dangerous to be in the work area such as padding and warning tape around poles
  5. Instruct his employees to attach padding or tape around the erected scaffolding

Swain & Co.’s personal injury solicitors say that due to the failings of the scaffolder, a woman has been seriously injured in an avoidable accident in a public place.

Anyone planning construction work in public places must carry out a risk assessment to identify potential danger to the public and take adequate steps to prevent them.


If you or a family member has been injured in an accident in a public place, Swain & Co can help you.

We offer you a free initial consultation to discuss your potential case and the funding options available to you.

Contact us for free through email or on 0800 0351 999