I would like to reply to the letter of Mr Sheaf which you published on 14 October 2011 on a number of points to do with scaffolding and the inquest of Dean Marden.
Working practices in the scaffold industry have changed and improved considerably over recent years. More old-fashioned, traditional, standards of work lead to many unnecessary injuries and deaths. All scaffolds should now be erected in accordance with SG4:10 Preventing Falls in Scaffolding - guidance produced by the scaffold industry and supported by HSE. If this guidance is followed, it would be very difficult to fall from a scaffold.
HSE Inspectors give evidence at Coroners' inquests regularly and are duty-bound to answer all questions honestly and fully, as well as with due consideration of those present, including family members.
I attended the inquest and know that when questioned, Inspector Karen Morris accurately explained that a guardrail could have been installed in the case of Mr Marden, and would be required under current scaffold guidance. Unfortunately this was not done and has been noted as a practice followed by other scaffolders in the local area.
There is absolutely no suggestion Mr Marden was anything but a competent and very experienced scaffolder, but on this occasion, he had not adhered to the current standards.
In July, HSE ran a free training event for all island scaffolders. We are working hard with the industry to raise standards to prevent any further injuries or deaths. Full guidance and advice is available to anyone that needs it on our website hse.gov.uk.
HM Principal Inspector,
HSE Construction South