Firm Fined After Scaffold Collapses

HSE Says It Was "Sheer Luck" That Nobody Was Seriously Injured Or Killed


A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector said it was "sheer luck" that nobody was killed or seriously injured when scaffolding collapsed in Corby, Northamptonshire.

Inspector Sam Russell thinks the case involving Desborough Scaffolding should act as a warning to other companies that platforms must be erected correctly.

The firm was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £4,678 in costs for safety failings that led to the incident on August 17th 2012.

Shoppers were forced to run away as the scaffolding - which had been built outside the Willow Place Shopping Centre in Queen's Square - fell some 20 metres.

An investigation by the HSE discovered the structure was not safe to use.

The company had fitted debris netting to the scaffold tubes and this acted as a sail once the wind got up.
Strong gusts caused the scaffolding to pull away from the building and fall apart, with metal poles and other potentially dangerous materials falling to the ground below.

The structure fell through numerous shop canopies and some businesses were forced to close while the damage was rectified.

According to the HSE, the scaffolding had not been designed by a competent person and care had not been taken to ensure it had adequate strength and rigidity.

Desborough Scaffolding, of Stoke Albany Road, Desborough, pleaded guilty to single breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Mr Adams insisted the accident was entirely preventable.

"Scaffolding erected to an approved design by competent persons should be able to withstand high wind loads without failing," he remarked.

"This case highlights the requirement of following prescribed industry designs and manufacturers' instructions. The company's failure to do so put innocent workers and members of the public at significant risk."

Falls from height are still the most common cause of workplace accidents in the UK and the HSE has clear guidelines for companies to follow when it comes to erecting scaffolding and portable working platforms.