PASMA urge against making unplanned modifications to scaffold towers

Following a recent prosecution of JR Scaffold Services Ltd, whose employee fell eight metres and sustained severe injuries that left him in hospital for two weeks, PASMA, the international not-for-profit association for the mobile access tower industry, are; “urging all those responsible for managing the use of mobile towers and prefabricated tower scaffolds, to take all necessary measures to protect employees’ safety”

The incident took place in 2016 and occurred when an employee was erecting a tower scaffold when the cantilever section of a scaffold he was erecting collapsed. The section was not included in the design but was added on after the eight-metre tower was erected in the incorrect position.  

The HSE found:

  • There was no design for the cantilever section
  • Due to there being insufficient anchor ties available on site, it was decided to support the cantilever by splicing the frame of the scaffold
  • There was also no ballast/counterweight which meant that the top section of the tower was unable to support the weight of the cantilever.
  • When an employee stood on the cantilever section to fit toeboards the top section of the scaffold and cantilever section collapsed.

The eight-metre fall resulted in the employee sustaining a collapsed lung, a ruptured spleen and multiple rib and shoulder fractures.

JR Scaffold Services Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £5,000.

PASMA say:

“This case highlights the consequences of making unplanned modifications to scaffold towers, which undoubtedly compromises the stability of the tower and increases the risk of incident. When assembling a standard configuration tower, including mobile access and cantilever towers, follow the instruction manual exactly.”

HSE inspector, Helen Diamond said;

“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in Britain and the risks associated with working at height are well known.

This incident could have been avoided if the task was properly planned, the existing scaffold was correctly positioned and securely attached to the tenement and any cantilever section properly designed and attached correctly to the main scaffold.”

FIND OUT MORE: HSE Case

FIND OUT MORE: PASMA

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