Man died after falling from scaffold tower hired to paint house

PUBLISHED: 14:45 10 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:34 06 May 2010

A MAN died after falling from a scaffolding tower he had hired to paint the outside of his house. An inquest on Tuesday heard that father-of-two Robert Guscott, aged 59, of Marshals Drive, St Albans, was found dead at the bottom of the tower by his wife

A MAN died after falling from a scaffolding tower he had hired to paint the outside of his house.

An inquest on Tuesday heard that father-of-two Robert Guscott, aged 59, of Marshals Drive, St Albans, was found dead at the bottom of the tower by his wife Katharine when she came home from work on September 12 last year.

A scaffolding expert told the coroner that he found several errors in the way the tower had been constructed and urged hire firms to take more precautions before allowing the public to use such equipment.

Mr Guscott, who had worked as a research administrator, hired the equipment from Rentatool in Lyon Way, St Albans, over the phone and it had been delivered to his house the previous day.

Mrs Guscott signed for the delivery as her husband was not there although lorry driver Brian Redmond said he had met Mr Guscott on previous occasions when he had hired diggers and rotavators from the firm.

In a letter to the court Mrs Guscott, a pre-school assistant, said it took her husband all morning to set up the scaffolding and he started to prepare the wall at lunchtime. The next day he started work at 7am but when she arrived home at 2.15pm she found his lifeless body near a ladder at the bottom of the tower.

Trading Standards officers investigated the accident and scaffolding expert Ian Fyall gave evidence at the inquest.

He said he didn't think the instructions supplied with the scaffold tower were easy to follow.

There were several errors with the way Mr Guscott had constructed his tower which conspired to render the platform unstable.

Most importantly the castor wheels at the bottom should have been locked when the tower was in use and the ladder should have been secured at the very least with a rope but preferably with clip-on hooks.

He said another factor which would have affected the tower's stability was unevenness of the ground.

Mr Fyall said he felt hire firms should always operate a "tick list" before allowing people to use this type of equipment which would preferably involve an element of training.

He said: "Scaffolding can be quite complex and it's a physical job which makes it difficult for one man on his own."

Pathologist Dr Neil Korostoff gave cause of death as brain injury due to a fall.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Edward Thomas said he would be writing to the trade association of hire firms to recommend more precautions be taken before releasing potentially dangerous equipment to unskilled hirers.

A spokesman for Trading Standards said they had carried out a thorough investigation of the incident and as a result would be visiting other hirers to reinforce their safety messages.

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