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HSE warns scaffolders

The Health and Safety Executive is warning scaffold companies to review current practices in an effort to reduce the number of incidents involving scaffolding collapse – particularly since severe wind conditions are more common.

The warning follows two successful prosecutions brought by the HSE in the North East following incidents involving the collapse of scaffolding in public places which resulted in fines and costs totalling £13,500 to the companies involved.

In September 2004 in Bondgate, Darlington a scaffold toppled over on to the street. In February 2005 scaffolding in Middle St, Consett also collapsed on to a public area. Fortunately no one was seriously injured but both could have resulted in very serious if not fatal injuries.

The HSE took the two scaffolding companies to court. Both pleaded guilty and were fined £4,000 and £5,000 respectively.

“The sheeted scaffolds were not secured well enough to the buildings and in high winds the ties failed,” said HSE prosecuting offere Rob Hirst. “More worryingly was the finding that trained scaffolders were relying on a wholly inadequate method of tying/securing their scaffolds to buildings. What had been done in both cases was simply to lever scaffold tubing against window reveals. Although affording some frictional force and a degree of stability, doing so was simply not good enough. Indeed both situations were accidents waiting to happen.”

"Scaffolds need always to be designed and constructed to recognised standards. Not only should those building scaffolds know what they are about, but there needs to be checks on how scaffolding is in fact set up - and of course scaffolds should be subject to regular inspection."

The HSE’s warning comes as two more scaffolds have collapsed over the last few days.
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Scaffold collapse in Harrow

A busy street in Harrow was brought to a standstill as 40ft of scaffolding collapsed into the road, crushing a car and injuring a passerby.
Parts of the building came away with the scaffolding at the building site, believed to be a proposed block of flats, at the junction of Gladstone Way and Palmerston Road. One woman suffered a leg injury as part of the scaffolding fell onto her.
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More scaffold chaos in Falkirk

And pedestrians in Falkirk town centre had a lucky escape last Friday when a section of scaffolding collapsed in strong winds.