Scaffold fittings thrown over heads of shoppers

Grant Prior 8 years ago
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A scaffolding contractor has been fined after workers were spotted on CCTV throwing and catching metal fittings over the heads of shoppers outside an Oxford department store.

Darren Baker Scaffolding Limited also failed to ensure the structures outside Debenhams were properly configured, braced and tied.

The Cheshunt-based company was prosecuted by the HSE after an investigation uncovered a series of issues.

They included:

  • Metal fittings were thrown from a flatbed lorry over the heads of passers-by – as captured by CCTV
  • Heavy scaffold poles were also hoisted above shoppers with no thought to their safety
  • Pedestrians were forced to walk into the road to avoid the activity, with no measures in place to protect them from passing vehicles
  • The two scaffolds were not built to an approved safe design and were inadequately braced and tied
  • They were also poorly configured, with the potential for overloading parts of the structure, and loads could not be transferred safely to the ground

The scaffolds were erected on the morning of Sunday 30 September 2012 when there was significant footfall in the area.

Oxford Magistrates’ Court heard that although nobody was injured, either from the work or from a collapse or fall, the activity was inherently unsafe.

HSE established that as a result of the failings there was a significant risk that the scaffold could have collapsed.

Darren Baker Scaffolding Limited, of Cheshunt, Herts, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay a further £760 in costs after pleading guilty to a single safety breach.

After the hearing HSE inspector Peter Snelgrove said: “The issues here are two-fold.

“There were clear concerns with the manner in which the scaffolds were erected, as captured by CCTV.

“Then there are the failings with the structures themselves, the fact they weren’t built to an approved design and were inadequately tied and braced.

“All scaffolds should be erected in a safe manner, but the risks are magnified when you are working in a busy city centre location with lots of traffic and pedestrians, as was the case here.

“Little thought was given to shoppers as fittings and poles were tossed or passed over their heads, and today’s conviction serves to illustrate the seriousness of the failings we uncovered.

“Thankfully nobody was injured, but that is the only saving grace.”

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