Workers jump for their lives as scaffold collapses


Three firms have been prosecuted by the HSE after workers had to literally jump for their lives when a huge scaffold collapsed into the River Brain in Essex.

Renovation work was underway at the Former Riverside Centre, Braintree when on the 1 July 2014 a forty meter run of independent five lifts high collapsed. Workers leapt through open windows to avoid falling with the huge scaffold.

The HSE commenced a full investigation into the incident and charged three firms with various breaches of law.

Principal contractor Parkland Developments Ltd, scaffolding contractor SC Cousins Scaffolding Ltd and CDM co-ordinator Haze and Safety Ltd all found themselves before Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard HSE’s investigation found numerous failings on site;

  • The CDM co-ordinator had failed to provide suitable and sufficient advice to the client (Parkland Developments Ltd) or ensure that the arrangements were being implemented on site.
  • The principal contractor (Parkland Developments Ltd) failed to implement the construction phase plan or ensure that they planned and managed or monitored the scaffolding works.
  • The scaffolding contractor failed to plan the work or design the scaffold. They also failed to send trained and competent workers to site. In the weeks prior to the collapse, a scaffolding labourer was acting as the supervisor and overseeing trainee scaffolders in erecting, altering and inspecting the scaffold.
  • Not one of the duty holders had identified there was no design for the scaffold.

HSE served a Prohibition Notice following the collapse, stopping all further work until an adequate design had been drawn up.

Following the collapse, SC Cousins Scaffolding continued to send untrained scaffolders to site and Parkland Developments allowed them to adapt the scaffold. Parkland also continued to allow site labourers to adapt scaffolding, even providing the tools to do so.

the court was heard how 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.

SC Cousins Scaffolding Ltd had also received an inspection from HSE at a different site five weeks before the collapse and had been informed of the design requirements for scaffolding.

Parkland Developments Ltd of Witham Road, Black Notley pleaded guilty to safety breaches. They were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,893.

S C Cousins Scaffolding Ltd of Church St, Billericay pleaded guilty to breaching 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 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.”