Firm fined after scaffolding collapses onto primary school

13 February 2019 | By CM staff

A company has been fined after scaffolding it had erected collapsed onto a neighbouring primary school.

Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard how Swain Scaffolding erected scaffolding 7m high and 8m long at the gable end of a residential property in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan.

On 5 May 2017 at approximately 1.30pm, the scaffold collapsed landing on a single storey roof above the playground of a neighbouring school.

At the time of the collapse, a group of nursery children were in the playground only a few metres away and minutes before the collapse the playground had been full of children playing after their lunch break.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the scaffolding was not designed or installed to withstand foreseeable loads. It was not tied to the adjacent building, nor did it have adequate buttressing or rakers and was essentially a freestanding structure. The investigation found that it was almost inevitable that the scaffolding would collapse, even in unremarkable weather conditions.

Swain Scaffolding of Heol Y Nant, Rhiwbina, Cardiff was found guilty of breaching Regulation 19(2) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations and was fined £24,000and 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.”


HSE Regulation 19(2) for Construction Design and Management Regulations can take restrictions on scaffolds further for the protections of workers and public at large with more stringent compliance by introducing "Structural Engineer" designing scaffolds and a Competent Person overseeing erections and dismantling of the structures.
The elevated platform when structurally designed and inspected will supports workers and materials. Though most scaffolds used for construction work are complex structures and workers need to know how to erect them, dismantle, and work from them safely. Unsafe scaffolds such that collapsed and landing on a single storey roof above the playground of a neighboring school can endanger workers in many ways if it happened during work hours.
The addition of stringent codes in design could be stretched to the scaffolds own weight and at least to be four times the intended load. The intended load will be the sum of the weights of all personnel, tools and materials that will be placed on the scaffold. While the Competent Person watch out for excess weight than it can safely handle.
As in occurrence of human errors which probably happened in the collapsed landing on a single storey roof above the playground, incident or accidents may occur; this is an unplanned, unwarranted event or event that can be random and could not have been prevented since nearly all construction site fatalities, injuries are preventable as before described.

AFOLABI ADESANYA, MCIOB, C Build.E FCABE, 16 February 2019

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