Tea break saves workers as scaffold collapses

Grant Prior 12 years ago

Construction workers had a lucky escape when they came down for a tea-break just minutes before a scaffold they were working on collapsed.

Two Stoke-on-Trent companies have now been fined for their part in the collapse which saw seventy metres of sheeted scaffold peel away from a row of houses in Wellington Road, Hanley on April 30 last year.

No workers or passer-by were hit by the scaffold but a row of parked cars was damaged and a street lamp destroyed.

Potteries Demolition Company Limited was the principal contractor on the Stoke City Council scheme to demolish 15 terraced houses and the former Highland Laddie pub on one side of Wellington Road.

The firm appointed Jacko’s Scaffolding Limited to provide scaffolding.

An HSE investigation found the scaffold had not been built to an appropriate bespoke design and was not sufficiently secured to the houses.

It was also a windy day with gusts of up to 46mph in the area, which put extra pressure on the sheeted scaffold.

Stafford magistrates were told that the original scaffold provided by Jacko’s was a basic scaffold provided for roof tile removal and as such it did not require a bespoke design.

But the next stage in the demolition sequence required the scaffold to be altered and sheeting added, as it was to be used as a work platform for hand demolition of the front upper walls of the buildings.

This meant that the scaffold needed to be a bespoke design as it could become vulnerable to collapse as the buildings it was tied to were demolished.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Bowker said: “It was sheer good luck that no-one was hurt when the scaffold collapsed. If anyone had been on it or nearby, it would have been a very different story.

“This incident was caused by a catalogue of serious failings by both companies.

“The failure to construct the scaffold to a suitable design for the work meant that the scaffold ultimately could not withstand the effects of wind loading as the buildings upper walls were demolished and first floor anchor ties were removed.”

Jacko’s Scaffolding Limited, of Tittensor, Stoke-on-Trent, was dined £5,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £2,992.

Potteries Demolition Company Ltd, of Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent was fined a total of £13,320 with costs of £11,967.

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