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Workers injured as scaffold collapses

Persimmon Homes, one of the biggest house builders in the UK was fined £28,000 after two of its workers fell two metres from a scaffold that collapsed on one of their building sites.

Cathedral Scaffolding Company set up a scaffold on the Persimmon Homes site. The scaffold ran from the gable ends of two houses so that workers could work safely at height. However, both Cathedral Scaffolding and Persimmon Homes had failed to work out the safe level of load bearing on this structure, taking into consideration the workers and all the building materials.

As a result of this failure, a 62-year-old man fractured his foot and was unable to work for nine weeks, while his 29-year-old co-worker twisted his knee and suffered a bruised neck.

The scaffolding company thought it was not possible to fit a structure that included a four-board walkway and supporting struts called standards, which transfers the load from the platform to the floor. Believing this this would not fit, the company effectively built the platform without any supporting struts.

Once Cathedral Scaffolding had finished the structure, it provided a ‘handing over' certificate, which also contained information about the restrictions of the scaffold's use, including the weight load. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector commented after the hearing that, unless a scaffold was of a basic design, it needed to be designed properly to ensure that it was safe.

In this incident, the scaffold had no support or stability. In addition to the poor design of the structure, Persimmon Homes loaded the structure incorrectly, by putting all the dry blocks at one end, which may have contributed to the collapse, as loads on scaffolds are usually evenly spread.

Both Persimmon Homes and Cathedral Scaffolding Company pleaded guilty to their respective health and safety breaches and between them were fined £28,000.

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