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Worker hung on for life during scaffold collapse


"The director of a dissolved scaffolding company has been prosecuted after two workers were injured during a scaffold collapse in Nottingham.

The two men, who wish to remain anonymous, were dismantling a tower scaffold outside student accommodation on Radford Boulevard, when it collapsed on 24 January 2011.

RB & Son Scaffolding Ltd erected the scaffold so that the men could repair a broken gutter on the building. The 24-metre-high structure had been secured to the building by two ties, which were installed 18 metres above the ground. Once the gutter had been repaired the men began dismantling the scaffold from the top downwards.

Once the scaffold was reduced to 18 metres, the ties were removed, and the men carried on dismantling the structure without anything in place to secure it to the building.

The scaffold became unstable due to a combination of the workers’ movements and wind conditions, and it collapsed. One of the men was on a platform six metres above the ground, and he jumped when the scaffold started to fall. He fractured his left ankle and his right heel. He has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries.

The other man was working at a height of around 10 metres and he managed to hold on to the scaffold as it fell. It crashed into the building opposite and he was able to slide down to the ground, suffering only minor injuries.

HSE inspector Kevin Wilson told SHP that the work was not properly planned and Robert Leslie Butler, who was a director of RB & Son Scaffolding, had signed off the scaffolding once it was erected.

“The two men were extremely luck to survive this incident. There was no safe sequence of work in place to dismantle the tower,” said inspector Wilson. “The fact the scaffold only had ties at the top meant that as soon as they were removed a collapse was inevitable.

“Work at height should be properly planned and a safe system of work developed. Mr Butler failed his employees in both respects.”

Butler appeared at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on 11 April and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.4(1)(c) and reg.8(b)(ii) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, by virtue of s37 of the HSWA 1974. He was fined £3000 and ordered to pay £2000 in costs.

In mitigation, he said one of the workers was a trained scaffolder and he had trusted him to ensure the scaffold was safe. He entered an early guilty."

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