Scaffold collapsing leaves firm in a heap of trouble

A loft conversion company have been found guilty of a number of safety failings which led to an employee being injured in a dramatic scaffold collapse outside a property in North London.

The structure of the scaffold buckled, tipped towards the home it was being used to serve and bent in on itself which effectively ended up in the worker getting thrown off the scaffold and an array of materials following them down which included plaster boards and wood was sent crashing six metres to the ground below.

The worker suffered two broken ribs in the fall at the property but was fortunate not to have sustained more serious injury or have been killed.

His employer was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after and investigation identified that their was clear safety failings with the design of the scaffold.

Court heard it was being used to provide access to the roof of a traditional two-storey property where a loft conversion was underway, and had been built to reach across a ground level bay window.

The firm was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay a further £1,019 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

HSE established that the weight of the materials on the structure at the time of collapse was between 3-3.5 tonnes – the equivalent of a transit van. This was far greater than it could safely handle and it gave way as it was simply unable to bear the load.

The court were told that as a company which regularly engages in working at heigh they should have known that the scaffold needed to be specific to the building and approved by a specialist structural engineer.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Simon Hester said:

“The collapse would not have occurred had the scaffold been designed by a competent specialist to carry loads of 3.5 tonnes with an overhanging cantilever to accommodate the bay window.

The firm failed to adequately plan and design the scaffold that collapsed; failed to manage the storage of heavy materials; and ultimately failed to protect its workforce.”

Source: HSE