Director handed suspended sentence after scaffold collapse

29 September 2020

The director of a scaffolding firm has been handed a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, after an employee sustained fatal head injuries when the structure he was working on collapsed.

On 16 February 2017, two operatives were working for a Scaffolding Services, dismantling a structure on a site in London. The scaffold collapsed and one of the men fell least five metres onto the concrete pavement below. He died from his injuries a few weeks later.

The firm’s director, had failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment, plan the work and provide a design for erection and dismantling of the scaffold. 

The investigation by the HSE found that the director was not knowledgeable about the measures required to do this without putting people at risk and therefore didn’t follow the correct measures to ensure safe erection and dismantling of the scaffold.

The case highlights the importance of following industry guidance in order to design and erect scaffolding in a safe manner, to prevent risk to workers using the scaffold. ‘The death could have been prevented had the employer acted to identify and manage the risks involved, and to put a safe system of work in place and appointed a competent person to support in his duties. 

The director admitted breaching Regulation 8(2)(ii) of the Work at Height Regulations; Sections 33(1)(a) and 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act; and Section 33(2) and Schedule 3A to the Act. 

He was fined £1000, received a 12-week prison sentence suspended for one year and was ordered to pay costs of £11,000.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(3)(b) and 8(b)ii of the Work at Height Regulations and Section 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was fined £7860 and ordered to pay costs of £8940.

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