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CLIENT/PC BLAMED FOR SCAFFOLDING FIRM FAILINGS

Crown court finds drinks company and contractor guilty over scaffold defects

Universal Beverages Ltd and Central Roofing and Building Services Ltd (Erect-A-Scaffold T/A) have been ordered to pay over £200,000 in fines and prosecution costs after being found guilty of safety offences following a serious incident involving a scaffold in October 2009.

Worcester Crown Court heard during a week-long trial (1-8 July) that Erect-A-Scaffold was appointed by Universal Beverages to erect and maintain scaffolding at the site. HSE found “significant” issues with the scaffolding, including loose boards and big gaps.

The scaffolding contractor was not inspecting the scaffold frequently enough and on more than one occasion sent an inexperienced and unqualified employee to carry out the inspection. 

Scaffolds above 2m high must to be inspected every seven days and any defects rectified immediately. HSE found the company failed to perform adequate and regular safety inspections and maintenance of the scaffold.

The court held that Universal Beverages failed to ensure the contractor appointed fulfilled its obligation in this regard and thereby failed to ensure the safety of non-employees.

Duties to monitor subcontractors and provide competent workers

Universal Beverages Ltd of Staines, Middlesex was fined a total of £85,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 costs after being found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Central Roofing and Building Services Ltd (Erect-A-Scaffold T/A) of Hereford, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £18,000 costs after pleading guilty to the same breach.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Humphries said:

“As the principal contractor on this building project, Universal Beverages was responsible for ensuring that the scaffolding was checked every seven days to ensure it was safe and that workers were not exposed to risk.

As the sub-contractor on the site, Central Roofing Services was responsible for ensuring that the inspection was carried out weekly by a competent person, which they failed to do.

Companies working on construction projects have a duty to monitor the practices of the subcontractors they engage, while subcontractors need to ensure their employees are competent to undertake the work they have been engaged to do”.

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