A combination of falls led to the death of one man and serious injuries to another, in a case that demonstrates two of the vital applications of edge protection.
The deceased, John Altoft, was part of a team working to install scaffolding on the inside of a tower at a cement works in Rugby; he was some seven metres above ground level, with work also being carried out above him.
When this work led to concrete debris falling from above, Mr Altoft was struck, and fell the seven metres to the ground, while a colleague was also hit and sustained fractures to his arm and wrist.
Mr Altoft’s head injuries proved fatal, and his employers were subsequently fined a total of £1.3 million for the death of the 29-year-old just weeks before his wedding day.
Proceedings in the case took more than two years, and the verdict was finally delivered just before Christmas 2015.
The deceased’s partner Carly Sargent said: “Even now, two years on I still miss John. Mine and John’s life together was taken away from us. We grew up together. He worked hard all his life with the intention of becoming my husband and having a family. This is all he wanted. We both wanted the same things.”
Edge protection can help to ensure such incidents never need to occur, by protecting against both of the falls that happened in this case – the debris that was able to land on the victim, and his own fall to the floor.
On any active building site, or during renovation works on existing structures, fall prevention measures must not only account for those at height falling from an edge, but also tools, materials and general rubble falling on to those working or simply passing by below.
This can be bolstered by the use of rubbish chutes to safely carry debris to ground level, and safety ladders to offer extra protection for workers en route to an elevated position.