Suspended Prison Sentence for Builder after Girl Hit on Head by Hoisted Wood

3-year-old Suffers Life-changing Injuries

A builder has been given a suspended prison sentence after a hoisted piece of timber fell on a member of the public. The self-employed man was operating on a refurbishment job at a flat whilst a piece of timber was being hoisted up scaffolding.  Below this, a woman was pushing her daughter in a buggy in the street. As they were passing the scaffold, the wood fell from a distance of approximately 10 metres and hit the 3-year-old on the head. She suffered life-changing injuries as a result and it is not yet known if she will make a full recovery. The builder, Grzegorz Glowacki from Brighton, was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, plus ordered to do 220 hours of unpaid work.

The accident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Inspectors established that the builder had used a piece of rope to hoist the timber up, but had not used a suitable knot to attach it to the wood. He had also not put in place an exclusion zone underneath the operation, in case the wood was to fall.

5 tips to help ensure the safety of those in the vicinity of hoisted materials and equipment:

  1. Do a risk assessment to determine what could go wrong with the hoisting procedure. Think about how the item(s) could fall or slide unexpectedly, and either hit someone or cause damage to property. Consider all the ways in which the load could become unstable.
  2. Identify the correct equipment to use for the hoisting procedure. Select the right length or rope or slings, and inspect them first to ensure they are in a good condition. Verify the weight of the load to make sure the rope/sling can hold it. Place any hooks in the right location for the centre of gravity of the load.
  3. Develop a safe system of work for hoisting materials, and ensure it includes a dynamic risk assessment for assessing the local environmental factors on the day, such as wind speed and direction. Put an exclusion zone in place underneath the area where the hoisted materials will be.
  4. Provide training for workers on safe lifting and hoisting practices, and check that they understand the hazards involved and the correct operation of any equipment provided.
  5. Supervise the procedure, and check that the exclusion zone is kept clear of workers and others whilst the hoisting operation is happening.

It is so important to make sure that any procedures involving materials or equipment being hoisted to work places at height are done so in a safe manner. Check today that your practices make the grade.