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Near-Fatal Scaffold Collapse

4th November 2015

Three construction firms have been fined a total of £40,000 following a near-fatal scaffold collapse on an Essex building site.

Workers at the former Riverside Centre in St John’s Avenue, Braintree, were forced to leap to safety through open windows when the forty metres long and five storey high scaffolding fell in July 2014.

Image courtesy of Essex Chronicle
Image courtesy of Essex Chronicle

Builders Parkland Developments of Witham Road, Black Notley, health and safety company Haze and Safety of Meadowside, Braintree, and SC Cousins Scaffolding of Church Street, Billericay, admitted a range of failings at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard how the CDM Coordinator had not provided suitable advice to the builders, who then failed to implement the requirements of the construction phase plan and monitor the scaffolding works as they progressed.

The scaffolding firm admitted failing to plan the work or design the scaffold. They also failed to send trained and competent workers to the site and in the weeks prior to the collapse, a scaffolding labourer was acting as the supervisor and overseeing trainee scaffolders.

Following the collapse, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) served a Prohibition Notice which required that a scaffold design be provided, but the firm continued to send untrained scaffolders to the site and Parkland Developments allowed them to continue to work.

The court was told Parkland Developments Ltd had received an inspection from HSE at the same site several months prior to the collapse where five enforcement notices were issued for other management failings. A Notification of Contravention was also issued on CDM co-ordinator Haze and Safety Ltd for failing to provide suitable and sufficient advice to the client.

Parkland Developments Ltd of Witham Road, Black Notley pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. They were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,893.

SC Cousins Scaffolding Ltd of Church St, Billericay pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 4(1)(a), 5 and 8(b) of the Work at Height Regulations. They were fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,981.

Haze and Safety Ltd of Meadowside, Braintree pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations Regulation 20(1)(a) & (b) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. They were fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,981.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Adam Hills said: “This collapse was entirely preventable and it is only by chance that multiple fatalities did not occur. It beggars belief that following the collapse, no lessons were learnt and untrained people were still allowed to adapt the scaffold.

This case highlights the importance of ensuring those who undertake construction work have the relevant skills, knowledge, training and experience to do so.”