Scaffold collapse highlights the importance of safe design

A scaffolding company has been fined $150,000 after a poorly designed scaffold collapsed while seven people were working on it.

Affordable Scaffolding (2010) Limited was sentenced at the Auckland District Court last month following the February 2017 incident involving a scaffold erected under the Panmure Bridge in Auckland. The scaffold collapsed while seven workers were completing maintenance work on the bridge. Six workers fell into the water and another was trapped on the scaffolding. No-one was seriously injured.

A WorkSafe investigation found the collapse occurred due to overloading. It found Affordable Scaffolding (2010) Limited failed to ensure scaffolding was designed safely and load calculations and design drawings were not reviewed by an engineer prior to the scaffold being built.

In October 2018, WorkSafe accepted an Enforceable Undertaking from engineering and infrastructure company Opus International Consultants Limited and Topcoat Specialist Coatings Limited in relation to this incident. Opus was responsible for providing consultancy services and Topcoat for restoration work.

An enforceable undertaking is an agreement between WorkSafe and a duty holder following a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The agreement details a series of actions that Opus and Topcoat will undertake and is legally binding.

WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions, Simon Humphries, says this incident could have had catastrophic consequences and it is extremely fortunate that all seven workers escaped without serious injuries.

“This incident highlights the requirement for every scaffolding company to ensure structural design, engineering review and adherence to standards and guidance material. The workers on this, and every scaffold project, have a right to expect that their employers are doing everything required to keep them safe while they’re at work.”

Notes:

  • A fine of $150,000 was imposed.
  • Reparation of $12,000 was ordered

Charge 1: 

  • Affordable Scaffolding (2010) Limited was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
    • Being a PCBU, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who worked for the PCBU, while at work in the business or undertaking, and that failure exposed its workers to a risk of death or serious injury, arising from scaffold collapse.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.

Charge 2: 

  • Affordable Scaffolding (2010) Limited was sentenced under sections 36(1)(b), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
    • Being a PCBU, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers whose activities in carrying out work were influenced or directed by ASL, including Topcoat Specialist Coatings Limited and Opus International Consultants Limited workers, while they carried out the work, namely working on the scaffold erected underneath the Panmure Bridge (the scaffold), and that failure exposed those workers, to a risk of death or serious injury, arising from scaffold collapse.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.

Media contact details

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Email: media@worksafe.govt.nz

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