A Greater Manchester subcontractor has been fined £24,000 after scaffolding collapsed outside a new gym in Hyde, crushing several cars.
Craven Scaffolding Ltd of Britannia Road in Sale was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive following the incident at the health and fitness centre on Queen Street in Hyde during its construction.
The company was ordered to pay £7,000 towards the cost of the prosecution in addition to the fine at Trafford Magistrates' Court on 24 February 2010. The court heard that the company had failed to tie the scaffolding to the building, despite it being in a windy location.
The structure, which was more than 40 metres wide and nearly six metres high, was forced over by high winds early in the evening on Saturday 17 January 2009. It collapsed onto a neighbouring residential street, damaging several parked cars.
HSE Inspector Neil Martin said: "People living near the site could easily have been badly injured or even killed when the scaffolding collapsed. Several cars parked on the street were crushed but luckily no one was in them at the time. There is a primary school nearby and it is sheer luck that this incident happened in the evening and not at the end of the school day. I would not like to speculate about the injuries it could have caused.
"The scaffolding collapsed because basic health and safety procedures weren't followed when it was put up. If it had been tied to the building, it could not have been forced over by high winds."
Craven Scaffolding pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 12(4) by failing to carry out an inspection of the scaffolding up to seven days before the collapse, and of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of the public.
Martin added: "Craven Scaffolding had put up netting on the scaffolding to catch falling debris but it acted as a sail and pulled over the structure, which was not tied to the building. It's vital scaffolding companies learn lessons from this incident to prevent injuries in the future."