Scaffolding firm fined for safety breaches

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A developer and the firm it hired to erect scaffolding have been fined by the Health and Safety Executive for safety breaches…

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued fines to property developer Chart Forte Court (West Ealing) Limited (CFC) and LS Scaffolders for unsafe practices.

The scaffolding company was hired on behalf of CFC to erect scaffolding on the site before the appointment of a principal contractor. By doing so the CFC took the role of principal contractor.

The case, which was brought before Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court, revealed how officers from Ealing Council observed unsafe practices during the erection of scaffolding in November 2013. Employers on site were asked to cease work before the issue was reported to the HSE. Following this a Prohibition Notice was served on LS Scaffolding.

Concerns were raised about the stability of the partially complete structure. Ealing Council Building Control, which was asked by the HSE to inspect the site, served a Dangerous Structure Notice on CFC. The firm was told the scaffolding had to be made safe or be taken down by 18 December 2013.

Before the scaffolding could be taken down both firms involved had to show the HSE that this could be completed with a safe system of work in place. However, despite being informed by the HSE that no assurance had been given, LS Scaffolding took the structure down over the weekend of 15 December 2013.

The process of removing the scaffolding was reportedly undertaken in a manner that was so unsafe members of the public asked the police to intervene.

The HSE said when they arrived the following day most of the scaffolding had been removed, but they served another Prohibition Notice as worker were still at risk of falls.

CFC pleaded guilty to Regulation 22 (1) (a) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007, which covers the duties of a principal contractor, and received a fine of £18,000 with costs of £932 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Contractor LS Scaffolding, of Vicarage Farm Road, Hounslow, pleaded guilty to Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The regulation states that every employer shall ensure work at height is properly planned, appropriately supervised, and carried out in a manner that is safe. The firm was fined £18,000 with costs of £964 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Peter Collingwood said: “This case shows the need to always properly plan the works and to ensure competent, skilled workers are in place to carry out high risk activities.

“On this site there was no effective management of the works taking place and unskilled, vulnerable workers were put at serious risk. If works had not been halted by enforcing authorities on three occasions a serious accident could easily have occurred.”

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