Scaffolding Collapse Narrowly Misses School Children

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Cardiff Magistrates have fined a company called Swain Scaffolding Ltd following the collapse  in May 2017 – of a large scaffolding structure erected next door to Albert Road Primary School in Penarth.

The scaffolding had no connection with the school itself and was for work being undertaken on an adjacent, council-owned, private residence.

Part of the scaffolding – consisting of timber boards and steel tubes – fell into the playground of the school – narrowly missing a group of nursery children who were in the playground only short distance away .

Minutes before the collapse far more children had been in the school-yard  playing after their lunch break.

The court heard that the scaffold construction erected by Swain Scaffolding Limited was 7 metres  high and 8 metres wide  – and he been put up against the gable end of a residential property in Albert Road next to the school .

On 5 May 2017 at approximately 1.30pm, the scaffold collapsed  – much of it landing on a single storey roof of the school building and completely spanning the playground .

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the scaffolding was not designed or installed to withstand foreseeable loads.

Even worse – the scaffolding “had not been tied to the adjacent building, nor did it have adequate buttressing or rakers and was essentially ” freestanding structure”.

Health and Safety investigators found that it was almost inevitable that the scaffolding would collapse, even in unremarkable weather conditions”.

Swain Scaffolding Limited of Heol Y Nant, Rhiwbina, Cardiff were found guilty of breaching Regulation 19(2) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations and was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay £3452.50 in costs.

HSE inspector Gemma Pavey commented: “Failure to adequately design and install scaffolding, so that it can withstand foreseeable loads, creates risk to workers and members of the public who could be injured by an uncontrolled collapse. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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