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Scaffolding company and client fined for unsafe practices

Date:
25 June 2015

A property developer and the firm it contracted to erect scaffolding, have both been fined for safety breaches.

Chart Forte Court (West Ealing) Limited (CFC) was the client for the refurbishment of a building into a hotel. They contracted LS Scaffolders to erect the scaffold on the site before appointing a principal contractor to work on site, and by doing so CFC took the role of principal contractor themselves.

Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court heard how officers from Ealing Council observed very unsafe practices during the erection in November 2013 and asked the workers on site to stop before referring the matter to the HSE.

A Prohibition Notice was then served on LS Scaffolding by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The fact that work on the scaffold had now been prohibited meant that concerns arose in relation to the stability of the partially completed structure. Ealing Council Building Control were asked by the HSE to inspect the scaffold and duly served a Dangerous Structure Notice on Chart Forte Court (as owner of the site) requiring them to make safe or take down the scaffold by 18th December 2013.

However, before the scaffold could be taken down, the two companies involved would have to satisfy the HSE that this could be completed with a safe system of work in place, to be followed by competent scaffolders.

Despite being told by HSE the fact that that no such reassurance had yet been given to the HSE, LS Scaffolding proceeded to take the scaffold down anyway over the weekend of 15 December 2013.

It was being dismantled so unsafely,on a busy high street full of shoppers, that members of the public asked the police to intervene, which they did.

When HSE arrived the following day, most of the scaffold was down but another Prohibition Notice was served as workers were still at risk of falls.

Chart Forte Court (West Ealing) Limited of Ashtons Road, Northwood pleaded Guilty to Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 and were fined £18,000 with costs of £932 and a victim surcharge of £120.

L S Scaffolding Limited of Vicarage Farm Road, Hounslow pleaded guilty to Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and were fined £18,000 with costs of £964 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Peter Collingwood said:

“This case shows the need to always properly plan the works and to ensure competent, skilled workers are in place to carry out high risk activities. On this site there was no effective management of the works taking place and unskilled, vulnerable workers were put at serious risk. If works had not been halted by enforcing authorities on three occasions a serious accident could easily have occurred.”

Notes to Editors: 

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. hse.gov.uk 
  2. Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 – Every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned; appropriately supervised; and carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe, and that its planning includes the selection of work equipment in accordance with regulation 7. 
  3. Regulation 22(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 covers the ‘duties of a principal contractor’. As outlined here: CDM Regs 22(1) 
  4. Further HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk 
  5. For more information on working at height go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height/

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