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Union blasts 'shocking' safety breaches

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A UNION leader has slammed as 'shocking' pictures of scaffolding work secretly photographed by NCE.

The shots show Boss Scaffolding operatives dismantling scaffolding above a shop and street in central London on Tuesday without harnesses or hard hats, with access provided only by an unsecured ladder.

Scaffold tubes were thrown to a waiting colleague below amid shoppers along Exmouth Market.

After Boss headquarters were contacted by the Health & Safety Executive following a complaint, staff donned hats and unanchored harnesses (see far right) before continuing work.

When shown the pictures, GMB union construction officer Kelly Rogers pointed to insufficient toeboards and the absence of a canopy to protect people below.

'This is shocking. Apart from the risk to their own lives, there is no protection to members of the public along a busy thoroughfare. I hope the HSE investigates this, ' she said.

An HSE spokesman said: 'We phoned Boss who said that scaffolding was not being thrown down but was being passed down, and said the work was being carried out in a safe and proper manner. We have asked for a written response.

'Because of resources, we could not have got an inspector there in time. However, we will be interested in looking at any new evidence before deciding whether to launch an investigation, ' he added.

No-one at Boss Scaffolding was available for comment.

lRecord penalities have been imposed by an Irish court after prosecutions over the death of two workers in an unsupported trench in County Kildare in 1998. Roseberry Construction was fined IR£200,000 (£160,000) and director Denis McIntyre was personally fined £32,000. Sub-contractor Peter Drennan was given an 18-month suspended jail sentence and fined.

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