17th December 2013
Collapsing scaffolds are not as rare as some might think! With nearly two thirds of the construction industry regularly using scaffolding, the law of averages would suggest there is always the possibility of the risk of an accident taking place and causing serious injury among the UK’s 2.3 million construction workers or to members of the public passing underneath erected scaffolding.
The reality is that accident claims, which are brought as a result of a scaffold collapse, are more common than might be imagined due to incorrect construction or usage. It may come as a shock to some to learn that every year in the UK a staggering 4,500 people are injured and around fifty are killed as a result of an accident involving a faulty scaffold, with an estimated loss of 90 million working days and consequential accident compensation.
A recent case of a large scaffold collapse, which could have been avoided, ultimately, cost both the main contractor and the scaffolding company a total of over £33,270 in fines and costs. A basic scaffold design only had been erected to prepare for the demolition of 15 terraced houses in a Stoke City Council scheme.
According to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the scaffold was found not to have been built to an “appropriate bespoke design”, despite knowing this was required. As a result, seventy metres of sheeted scaffold, which was not properly secured to the building, simply fell away, causing damage to nearby parked cars.
However, between 2006 and 2011, in the Midlands and nearby regional areas, 250 people were injured while working on scaffolding and a further three lost their lives.
In August 2012, the HSE carried out a three week initiative focused on the smaller construction and refurbishment sites around the West Midlands, Worcestershire and Warwickshire in a bid to raise awareness of the risks involved with scaffolds and to ensure they are erected and used safely.
According to the HSE, "Scaffolding still poses a significant risk to those involved in its construction and dismantling as well as those who use it ... because work was not properly planned or the equipment was incorrectly installed or used.”