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Firm fined over unsafe Scaffolding

  • 02 April 2014
  • By Roger Brown

Darren Baker Scaffolding has been fined £10,000 for a catalogue of safety failings – including throwing and catching metal fittings from a flatbed truck over the heads of shoppers as they erected two scaffolds.

In a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, Oxford Magistrates’ Court was told how workers from the Cheshunt, Hertfordshire-based firm were putting up scaffolds on the morning of Sunday 30 September 2012 outside an Oxford department store when there was significant footfall in the area.

An HSE investigation established that:
- metal fittings were thrown from a flatbed lorry over the heads of passers-by – and 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 company failed to ensure the structures outside Debenhams on George Street and Magdalen Street were properly configured, braced and tied, which undermined their stability. Although nobody was injured, either from the work or from a collapse or fall, the activity was inherently unsafe.

Darren Baker Scaffolding was also ordered to pay £706 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and four breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing HSE inspector Peter Snelgrove said: “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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Article source: http://www.commercialmotor.com:80/latest-news/firm-fined-over-unsafe-scaffolding