An incident in which a heavy metal beam fell into a busy London street could have been prevented had adequate guard rails been in place to stop loose items from being able to drop off of the sides of the structure.
The October 2011 incident saw a 32kg beam fall from six storeys high, first colliding with a worker on a third-floor scaffold before crashing down to street level.
Its victim, a self-employed subcontractor, was hospitalised and did not return to work for two months; the subcontracting firm involved has since gone into liquidation.
The beam fell while being dismantled from a temporary steel structure which, according to the HSE, lacked the necessary precautions to prevent such an incident.
HSE inspector Eileen Gascoigne said: “The incident was entirely preventable. The risks were foreseeable and the measures that needed to be in place are well-known in the industry and were readily implemented afterwards.”
The incident highlights why guard rails are important for more than just preventing people from falling from roofs – they can also prevent heavy objects from dropping to ground level and presenting a significant safety risk to anyone passing by, whether they are workers or members of the public.