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'Moment of stupidity' earns corner-cutting scaffolder suspended sentence

An experienced scaffolder has been given a suspended prison sentence and community service after he was spotted working 18 m above the ground without edge protection and in a safety harness that was not attached to an anchor point.

'Moment of stupidity' earns corner-cutting scaffolder suspended sentence
Sunlight House | Image credit: © Chris Brink/View Pictures/REX/Shutterstock
'Moment of stupidity' earns corner-cutting scaffolder suspended sentence
The photograph shows Terrance Murray working without fall protection

Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court was told that a former Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector photographed 27-year-old Terrance Murray standing on a platform on Quay Street, Manchester, on 30 June 2017. He was erecting scaffolding on the Grade II-listed Sunlight House ahead of window refurbishment work. 

The photograph shows that he was accompanied by a trainee scaffolder. 

The HSE found that Murray’s employer had taken reasonable steps to reduce the risk of any of its employees falling while working at height. He had been well trained and given the correct personal protective equipment to carry out the job safely. 

The executive concluded that Murray had worked “against his better interest” and had “set an unsafe example” for the trainee. It was likely he would have died from his injuries had he fallen on to the car park below, it said.

Prosecuting, Seb Gomez, said Murray had not been under pressure to complete the work quickly: “We believe it would have been more than reasonable to expect Mr Murray to follow his ample training and eight to nine years of experience to carry out his job correctly rather than deliberately cut corners for what was in effect little real gain other than time.” 

Murray, who no longer works as a scaffolder, pleaded guilty to breaching s 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, for failing to “take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and or other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions of work”. 

He told district Judge Mark Hadfield that it was a “moment of stupidity” before being was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and 100 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay £615 in costs and victim surcharge. 

HSE inspector Seve Gomez-Aspron said the case “serves to remind employees that they have a duty to look after themselves.” 



Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine


  • If we could contact the H.S.E

    Permalink Submitted by Denis Lawler on 24 February 2018 - 09:05 pm

    If we could contact the H.S.E by phone as we could in the PAST we could report loads of incidents like this c w photos.
    I witness incidents like this on a daily basis,when I rang the H.S.E I was told I needed to report the incident by email not much good when you are in slow moving vehicle on a high st in the uk
    Thank you
    Mr D Lawler

    • An HSE spokesperson contacted

      Permalink Submitted by Nick_Warburton on 27 February 2018 - 05:10 pm

      An HSE spokesperson contacted us and said: 

      "It is essential that all complaints and concerns are addressed through the correct channels. Online we have a number which employers/employees and members of the public can call to reach our concerns and advice team in which they can report an incident to HSE. The number is: 0345 300 9923

      "Alternatively, we have the online form which concerned members of the public can use to report an incident to HSE, this form is directed to our concerns and advice team who address and follow up all concerns."



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