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March 3, 2010

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Untied scaffolding collapsed into residential street

A Manchester-based company has been fined after an unsecured scaffold toppled over and crushed several cars in a residential area.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard that Craven Scaffolding Ltd had been responsible for erecting a tower scaffold during the construction of a new gym in Hyde. The scaffolding was six metres high and was forced over by heavy winds on 17 January 2009. It collapsed into a street and damaged a number of unoccupied parked vehicles.

The HSE visited the site two days after the incident and discovered that the scaffold had not been tied to the building. The firm had also attached netting on the scaffolding to catch falling debris, but this acted as a sail and pulled over the structure.

A Prohibition Notice was issued in relation to the scaffolding still in place on the other side of the building, which was also loose from the structure.

HSE inspector Neil Martin said: “The scaffolding collapsed because basic health and safety procedures weren’t followed when it was put up. If it had been tied to the building, it could not have been forced over by high winds.

“People living near the site could easily have been badly injured, or even killed when the scaffolding collapsed. Several cars parked on the street were crushed but luckily no one was in them at the time.”

Craven Scaffolding appeared in court on 24 February and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974, and reg. 12(4) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, for failing to carry out an inspection on the scaffolding up to seven days before its collapse. It was fined a total of £24,000 and ordered to pay £7000 in costs.

In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and it had entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity. It also said it had fully complied with the terms of the Prohibition Notice by ensuring that the remaining scaffolding at the site was adequately secured.

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