24 Nov 2009

Scaffold collapse - the consequences

Two construction firms involved in a major scaffolding collapse at Milton Keynes have been ordered to pay £126,000 for their role in the incident which left one man dead and two others seriously injured.

John Robinson, and his son Mark, were working on the Jury's Inn site in Witan Gate, Milton Keynes on April 11 2006, alongside Ivan Penkov. All three men were on the 40-metre-high scaffolding when it collapsed.  

Site before scaffold collapse   

They fell to the ground and were trapped under rubble until rescue workers could reach them. Father of three, John Robinson, 49, was taken to hospital suffering from serious injuries to his left leg. Three days later he died from a pulmonary embolism, as a result of the damage to his leg.John's son Mark Robinson suffered a punctured lung, broken vertebra and ribs and significant cuts and bruising in the fall. He was unable to work for a period after the incident. 

Site after scaffold collapse 

Ivan Penkov suffered serious fractures to his legs and arms and spent a month in hospital recovering. He has undergone a number of operations and has had to re-train as a draftsman.
In Huntingdon Crown Court today, the principal contractor on the Jury's Inn site, McAleer & Rushe Limited of Cookstown, N.Ireland was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay costs of £42,000. The cladder on the site, Lee Smith Carpentry Limited of Romsey, Hampshire was fined £36,000 and ordered to pay costs of £28,000.

The court heard that a combination of failures led to the scaffolding collapse. The scaffolding was not strong or stable enough for the work being carried out. Inspection of the scaffold was also inadequate, despite specific instructions from HSE and McAleer's health and safety manager. 

HSE Principal Inspector Stephen Hartley said:
"John Robinson lost his life in this incident and two others have had their lives changed forever as a result. It's a wonder that more people weren't hurt.
"It is totally unacceptable for companies to disregard the safety of their workers. If the scaffolding had been designed, erected and managed properly, this incident would never have happened."
McAleer & Rushe Limited had earlier pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety At Work etc Act 1974. Lee Smith Carpentry Limited had admitted four breaches of health and safety regulations. 

John Robinson's widow, Christine Robinson, said: "John was a kind, caring man who lived for his family. My children and I have not come to terms with his death; we don't understand why it had to happen. This incident should never have happened if both companies had ensured the safety of those working for them. Every day I miss John so much - my best friend, my soul mate and my future."

Transcript Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2009/coie10009.htm (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence).

The lack of inspection was highlighted as a major contributory factor to this incident, the after effects of which are highlighted by the HSE above. Once again, an incident such as this could have been prevented through the appropriate safety procedures and subsequent pre-use checks. For information on the Good to Go Safety range of inspection systems please visit Good to Go Safety Scaffold Inspections


  1. We have to avoid the best as we can these accidents, it's essential for our way to work with the scaffold

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