Company fined £15,000 after grandmother struck by pole

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MONTHS after a grandmother was struck on the head by a falling pole, a Worthing company has been sentenced for breaking health and safety laws.

On February 7 this year, Carroll Taylor was struck by a scaffolding pole in the alleyway between Union Place car park and Chapel Road.

At the time, Caroll told the Herald she was “lucky to be alive” after the 5ft pole “gouged flesh” from her skull and left her with injuries to the head and face.

At Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (October 18), the company responsible for erecting the scaffolding, Sussex-based Ashacre Scaffolding Limited, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £5,936.83, as well as a victim surcharge of £15.

During the hearing, Julia Thomas, for the Health and Safety Executive, said Ashacre had been contracted to provide scaffolding to enable the Connaught Theatre’s guttering to be cleared.

With the gutters cleared, Ashacre was instructed to remove the scaffolding, which was considered a potential danger to the public.

Three workers from Ashacre attempted this on February 7, but Ms Thomas said proper health and safety measures had not been taken, such as restricting public access to the area they were working in and installing signs letting people know work was taking place overhead.

The court heard at around 2pm that day, Mrs Taylor entered the alleyway while her husband was paying to park in Union Place car park, when the pole struck her, leaving her needing hospital treatment.

Ms Thomas said: “Although Mrs Taylor received an injury, it’s just a matter of fortune that it wasn’t more serious.”

John Joseph, defending, said a last-minute change of weather, which led to gusty conditions inside the alleyway, meant the group had to abandon their original plans to dismantle the scaffolding.

He said a “freak” gust of wind led to the pole falling down the ladder hole, striking the wall, then hitting Mrs Taylor.

And, because of legislation, he said the workers had been unable to cordon off the area to the public without previously applying for a prohibition notice from Worthing Borough Council.

Following the sentencing by District Judge Stephen Nicholls, Mr Joseph said if his client had to pay the fine and costs, Ashacre Scaffolding Ltd would close.