Companies fined after fatal collapse of access cradle on Sheffield building

Thursday, 4th Sep '08 at 10:10

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today issued a warning to construction companies about the importance of maintaining plant and equipment effectively, and training employees in its use. This warning comes after the partial collapse of an access cradle suspended from the exterior of a Sheffield office building in July 2003 which resulted in the death of one man, and injured three others.

HSE investigated this incident and brought the case against two companies - Apollo Cradles Ltd of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and Bradway Construction Ltd, of Sheffield, Yorkshire. Apollo was found guilty of breaching health and safety law last month in Sheffield Crown Court and was today fined £115,000 plus £45,000 costs. At an earlier hearing in Sheffield Magistrates’ Court Bradway Construction Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety law and today in Sheffield Crown Court the company was fined £25,000 plus £18,000 costs.

Four men, all employees of Bradway Construction Ltd, were using a suspended access cradle provided by Apollo Cradles Ltd to work on the maintenance and painting of an office building in Vicar Lane, Sheffield on 3 July 2003, when the cradle failed causing them to fall from a height of 10 metres. As a result one man died and his three colleagues were injured.

HSE Principal Inspector Dave Redman said:

"This is a tragic case involving four men who had never worked in a suspended access cradle before. The incident could have been avoided had Apollo Cradles Ltd ensured that the equipment it was providing was safe and fit for use. By failing to operate an effective maintenance regime and to properly examine the condition of the cradle, they betrayed the trust of workers whose lives depended on them.

"Added to this, the workers were required by their employers, Bradway Construction Ltd, to carry out painting and maintenance at height in a cradle without any training or instruction as to its safe use. This is unacceptable in this day and age – all workers have a right to expect to be trained on how to use the equipment they are working with, and there is plenty of advice and guidance available to employers in the construction industry to help them meet their legal obligations."

Apollo Cradles Ltd were found guilty of breaching Sections 3(1) and 36 of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Bradway Construction Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act.

  1. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) states:
    "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who might be affected thereby were not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."
  2. Section 2(1) of the HSWA:
    "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."
  3. The maximum penalty in the Crown Court for a breach of Ss 2 and 3 of the HSWA and the regulations reference above is an unlimited fine for each breach.
  4. Information about health and safety at work in the construction industry can be found at
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