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CROSS Safety Report

Injuries from falling scaffold tube

Report ID: 571 Published: 1 July 2016 Region: CROSS-UK

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Two children received injuries when a scaffold tube fell from height.

Key Learning Outcomes

For construction professionals:

  • Quality control and competent supervision on site can help to ensure that the structure is built in accordance with the design

  • Verification of temporary works erection by a competent person who can oversee and coordinate the whole process can also ensure the works are installed correctly

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It was reported that work was taking place to refurbish the roof of a large publicly accessible area. Two scaffolds had been erected to enable this to happen: a high-level working platform that gave access to the roof, and a lower-level scaffold to support a protective deck.

Whilst operatives were in the process of installing roof sheeting above part of the concourse, a 2.4m long standard tube that had been stored on the walkway on the high-level scaffold moved. It fell through a gap (Figure 1) in the scaffold planks and then struck and penetrated the protective decking below. Two children on the concourse received slight injuries.

Figure 1: gap between scaffold planks

The upper scaffolding was a proprietary system and the user manual recommended that the covering sheets be connected together to prevent gaps from forming but this was not done at the area in question. The lower scaffolding was to give protection from weather and against small items that might fall such as pieces of glass or hand tools. The designer's risk assessment did not reference falling scaffold tubes.

Although there was a general requirement that the lower decking should provide protection from falling objects, there was insufficient recognition of the need to withstand the impact from potential missiles falling from height.

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