A scaffolding collapse in a pedestrian walkway `could have been so much worse`, warns HSE

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning construction companies and property developers to ensure they provide safe scaffolding, which is regularly inspected, after two companies were fined for a scaffolding collapse in Birmingham City Centre.

On 13th December 2006 scaffolding, measuring between up to 50ft high and spanning 100ft along the side of a building, collapsed across Needless Alley at 6.40pm as it was being used by pedestrians.

SGB Services Ltd, of Leatherhead in Surrey, was fined a total of £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,000 at Birmingham Magistrates' Court, on Friday 13th March 2009, after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulation 8(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.The company had been charged with not ensuring that the working platforms, that they had installed were erected to ensure that components did not become accidentally displaced as to endanger workers or passers-by.

In the same court hearing John Davies Interiors Ltd, of Century House Oldbury, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,996 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 12(4) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company admitted that it had not ensured that the working platforms were not used in that position, as they had not been inspected within the previous seven days.

HSE Inspector Mike Ford said:

'The incident placed pedestrians and workers at risk because the two companies had failed to provide a scaffold that was suitably tied to the building and failed to ensure that the scaffold was inspected regularly after the erection.

'All employers have a responsibility to ensure that safe working practices are in place, because failure to do so could well cost lives, as well as enforcement action from HSE. It is extremely fortunate that nobody was injured, as CCTV footage of pedestrians passing within seconds of the collapse clearly demonstrates, it could have been so much worse.

'Anyone attempting to work on that scaffolding would have been at high risk. Falls from height at work resulted in 45 deaths last year, of which 23 were in the construction industry. In addition, 3,750 workers were seriously injured afer falling from height and 3,409 of those were employed in the construction sector.'

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