HSE issues reminder to contractors in Scotland after two firms are fined £132k for Edinburgh collapse

The Health and Safety Executive has written to scaffolding contractors across Scotland to remind them of their safety responsibilities after two firms were fined a total of £132,000 following a collapse.

Wakefield-based Deborah Services was fined £110,000 and Glasgow firm Beechwood Development Company was fined £22,000 for their part in a scaffolding collapse at a site in Edinburgh in May 2005, in which a worker was seriously injured.

Subcontractor Paul Laidlaw fell roughly five metres when two sectors of a 16m loading bay tower collapsed. He suffered a severe head laceration, a broken wrist and a broken rib. Beechwood was acting as principal contractor for the residential development at Hawkhill Avenue, while Deborah was contracted to provide scaffolding services for the project.

The HSE investigation revealed that the structure had been severely overloaded and that a number of factors contributed to the final collapse. The primary factors were:

  • Failure to appreciate that such a structure would require to be designed
  • Failure to provide information on the safe loading for this structure
  • Failure to control the loading of material onto the structure.
HSE principal construction inspector Jim Skilling said: "This was an extremely serious accident which could have lead to a loss of life. The scaffolding tower was not designed and then overloaded, and this led to its collapse. This accident was entirely preventable and the fines imposed today reflect the seriousness of this case."

Skilling added: "It is important for contactors to have systems in place to ensure scaffolding is fit for purpose. Workers and members of the public have the right to be protected."