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Falling plank struck toddler on the head in ‘horrendous’ incident

A self-employed builder has been handed a suspended prison sentence after a three-year-old girl in a pushchair was hit on the head by a falling timber plank. 

The child sustained life-changing injuries after the piece of wood fell 10 m from scaffolding that had been erected for a flat undergoing refurbishment in Preston Street, Brighton. 
Grzegorz Glowacki, who was in control of the works when the accident happened on 6 July 2018, pleaded guilty to breaching reg 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations. 
At Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 4 June, he was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 220 hours of unpaid work. He must also pay full costs of £5,728. 
The court was told that Glowacki had tied the length of timber to a rope and was hoisting it up the outside of the scaffold using a pulley system. 
The timber slipped and fell on to the girl as her mother pushed the buggy along the pavement.
The girl has made significant progress since the incident, said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), but it is not known whether she will make a full recovery.  
Its investigation found the knot Glowacki used to attach the plank to the rope was unsuitable, and there was no exclusion zone in place to protect passers-by from falling objects. 
After the hearing HSE inspector Stephen Green said: “This horrendous incident would have been the last thing on the minds of this little girl and her mum as they set off for a fun day out at the beach. The impact this incident has had on the girl and her family was easily preventable by simply stopping people from walking beneath the suspended timber whilst it was lifted. The risk should have been identified by Mr Glowacki.”


Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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