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Joiner found guilty of safety breach after man killed in scaffolding collapse

56-year-old Gary Skelding died on KWC site in 2020

Report by BBC Isle of Man.

A joinery foreman has been found guilty of a health and safety breach after a man died on a building site on the Isle of Man.

56-year-old Gary Skelding fell from scaffolding which collapsed on the site at King William's College in 2020.

Stephen Phillips, 37, was cleared of gross negligence manslaughter.

Stuart Clague Services (SCS) previously admitted failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees.

Douglas Courthouse heard Phillips, of Port Erin, had decided to place up to 45 plaster fireboards on to scaffolding, instead of transporting them into the building individually due to concerns over high winds which were gusting at up to 38mph (61 kmh).

His team, including Mr Skelding, were working on the refurbishment of the science block at the college.

The plaster fireboards weighed more than 35kg each and Phillips, who had 19 years experience as a joiner, had previously been told that the scaffolding could not take the weight of a "full pack" of 70 fireboards but not whether the structure could take the weight of up to 45, the jury was told.

 

Phillips was offered the telehandler machinery earlier than planned at about 7:45am on 4 August and the plasterboards had been moved on to the scaffolding and some of the handrails removed.

The court heard the scaffold, which had been erected by a separate firm, had shown some movement in the strong winds prior to the load being lifted on to it, and more after the boards were added to the platform, leading to a strap being added to it to steady the structure next to the building.

Phillips then went back on to the scaffold at about 8:45am to replace the handrails and was followed by Mr Skelding.

The platform Mr Skelding was standing on collapsed and he fell with some of the fireboards landing on top of him.

The court heard Phillips' training on working at heights, organised by SCS, had expired.

The section of the scaffolding which collapsed had been constructed differently to other sections and did not have the correct braces and ties.

The jury was also told a tag on the structure was not filled in correctly, seven-day inspections of it had not been done and a risk assessment had not properly been carried out by SCS.

Phillips, of Kitterland Lane, was found guilty of failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and others.

Both Phillips and SCS will be sentenced on 31 October.

 

 

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