Firm fined after scaffolding collapses at school

Image credit: Penarth News

A scaffolding company has been fined over £24K after scaffolding they had erected collapsed onto a neighbouring primary school.

Scaffolders from Swain Scaffolding had erected a 7m high gable end scaffold on a residential property in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan. Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard that on 5 May 2017 at around 1:30pm, the scaffold collapsed onto a single storey roof above the playground of a neighbouring school.

Shockingly at the same time, a group of young children was playing just meters away from the collapse, while just minutes before, the playground had been full of schoolchildren on their lunch break.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the scaffolding was not designed or installed to withstand foreseeable loads. It was not tied to the adjacent building, nor did it have adequate buttressing or rakers and was essentially a freestanding structure. The investigation found that it was almost inevitable that the scaffolding would collapse, even in unremarkable weather conditions.

Swain Scaffolding Limited based in Cardiff was found guilty of breaching the Construction Design and Management Regulations and was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay £3452.50 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Gemma Pavey commented: “Failure to adequately design and install scaffolding, so that it can withstand foreseeable loads, creates risk to workers and members of the public who could be injured by an uncontrolled collapse.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”