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Two companies fined after member of public badly hurt in scaffold collapse

23 March 2011 Email this article

Two North East companies have today been fined after a member of the public was seriously injured when scaffolding collapsed during high winds.

A 68-year-old woman was out shopping with relatives when the scaffolding in Shields Road, Byker, Newcastle collapsed on 14 March 2009.

She suffered double fractures to her right hip joint and right femur, puncture wounds to her right ankle and severe bruising and was in hospital for 12 days following the incident. Almost two years on she is still unable to carry shopping bags and is limited in what housework she can do.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Skyline Scaffolding Ltd had not erected the scaffolding properly by failing to ensure it was adequately secured to the building. The scaffold had been reduced in height to a single working platform with the wooden hoardings and sheeting still attached. In reducing the scaffold, the scaffolding company removed the arrangement that retained the scaffold to the building.

HSE also found that Ashbrook Construction Services Ltd had failed to ensure that the scaffolding was properly inspected both before work began and at regular intervals as it progressed.

Skyline Scaffolding, of Drum Industrial Estate, Birtley was found guilty, in absence, to one breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 between 14 January and 14 March 2009 and a second offence of breaching Regulation 8(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 between 11 and 14 March 2009 and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,182.30 at Newcastle Magistrates' Court today (16 March 2011).

Ashbrook Construction Services Ltd, of Leeholme Industrial Estate, Cowpen Lane, Billingham pleaded guilty to one breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 between 14 January and 14 March 2009 and was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2091.15.

After the case, HSE Principal Inspector Rob Hirst said:

"This incident could, and should, have been prevented. The lady was seriously injured and was lucky not to be killed as a result of this incident. And things could have been even worse had the scaffolding collapsed when workers were using it.

"Skyline Scaffolding Ltd failed to erect the scaffolding properly by not securing it adequately and Ashbrook Construction Services Ltd failed to ensure the scaffolding was inspected before work began and then regularly once it was in progress.

"Each company had varying responsibilities, but were complicit in failing to ensure the scaffold remained stable. Both parties should have been aware that the addition of wooden hoardings and impervious sheeting increased the loading on the structure.

"I would urge all those involved in the supply and use of temporary work platforms such as scaffolding, to ensure that they are erected by competent persons and are subject to inspection before work starts and then at least every seven days or following alteration or effects of adverse weather."