North East scaffolding firm fined £10k after roof structure they erected at Lynemouth Power Station blew off
A Tyneside scaffolding firm has been fined for safety failings after a roof – designed to provide weather protection – was ripped apart by high winds.
A 6m by 25m span of the roof weighing two tonnes landed 50m away.
At Bedlington Magistrate Court Pyeroy admitted breaching health and safety rules by putting workers at risk during the incident, in which no one was hurt.
The court heard the roof section was ripped from its 8m-high supporting scaffolds and hurled against the roof of a neighbouring shed before coming to rest on the far side of a delivery road used by coal lorries and pedestrians.
Thankfully, the road was deserted in the run-up to Christmas.
The court heard that the extension – designed to increase capacity and provide weather protection during deliveries – was constructed that summer with a plan
“only ever meant as an outline design”.
HSE inspector Andrew Woodhall, prosecuting, explained that Pyeroy has utilised a combination of two scaffolding techniques but had not linked them properly.
“Pyeroy failed in their duty in that their structure was based on plans that in their own words were never meant to be used for construction. It was only ever a plan.”
The firm is one of the largest scaffolding companies in the UK, and previous jobs have included the Forth Road Bridge and London’s Tower Bridge.
In 2013, it was bought by multinational oil and gas services company Wood Group.
Lawyer Nathan Peacey was joined in mitigation by Pyeroy’s managing director Hugh Pelham.
Mr Peacey said:
“Pyeroy have fully cooperated and acknowledged their failings at the earliest opportunity and have made a number of changes since.
“The firm is committed to health and safety in the work place and Mr Pelham is personally disappointed that this incident happened and a prosecution has resulted.”
“There were no aggravating features – the offence was isolated and no serious harm occurred but we accept that there was an element of fortune in that.”
HSE inspectors concluded that Pyeroy failed to ensure those involved in the construction of the extension had the necessary knowledge and experience to do the work.
Chief magistrate Andrew Nicholls fined the company £10,000 and ordered them to pay £1,045.50 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.
“It boils down to a construction project based on drawings that were not officially approved.
“We appreciate that the company has taken appropriate steps to ensure this does not happen again and it does have an excellent safety record overall.”
After the case, Mr Woodhall said: “Thankfully no one was injured as a result of this incident, but it should not and need not have happened.
“It was easily preventable had Pyeroy ensured the work was carried out to the correct standards. Regardless of the wind speeds, no-one knew whether the structure would be properly built or had been properly built, so they could give no assurances about the robustness of the roof.
“As a result of these failings, workers and others visiting the power station were needlessly put at risk.”