Scaffolding work

Death of a Scaffolder leads to huge fines

Posted By Kerry Budworth on 2015-12-28 21:39

An incident which resulted in serious injuries to one Scaffolder and the death of another in Rugby has led to two companies being fined a total of £1.3million at Warwick Crown Court. The court was told John Altoft, 29, who was just weeks away from his wedding day was killed when he fell to his death after being struck by falling debris inside an industrial tower.

Setting up access scaffold

On 18 January 2012, a team from Cape Industrial Services Ltd including the deceased, John Altoft, were installing an access scaffold within the Cyclone 1 tower, a steel plated tapered cylindrical structure at the Cemex Cement Works in Rugby. The work was being done to enable the relining of the inside of the tower. 

Falling debris to blame

The Court was told that the team was working inside the Cyclone 1 tower when concrete debris dropped on to John Altoft. The impact caused him to fall seven metres to the bottom of the structure which caused fatal head injuries. His colleague Ty Smart who was also seriously injured, suffered serious wrist and arm fractures and has been unable to work since the incident.

Co-ordination and planning between the companies an issue

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that both Cemex UK Operations Ltd and Cape Industrial Services Ltd Scaffolding should have co-ordinated and planned this high risk work to a higher standard. Cemex UK Operations Limited, Coldharbour Lane, Surrey, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £700,000 and was ordered to pay £90,783.78 in costs.

Cape Industrial Services Limited, Stockley Bridge, Uxbridge, Middlesex pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £600,000 was ordered to pay £90,783.78 in costs. HSE Inspector, Sue Thompson, said:

“John Altoft should have been celebrating his wedding, but instead his family suffered a terrible loss. This was an entirely preventable incident and proper planning and protection from the foreseeable danger of falling material would have prevented this from happening.”

Michelle Altoft, John’s mum, said:

“John was very loyal and hard working. He turned into the most handsome, caring young man, and I could not be more proud of him. He would help anyone and be there when you needed him. I have lost the most precious thing any mother could lose, and will never be replaced – my child.”

Carly Sargent, John’s fiancé, said:

“Even now, two years on I still miss John. Mine and John’s life together was taken away from us. We grew up together. He worked hard all his life with the intention of becoming my husband and having a family. This is all he wanted. We both wanted the same things.”

A needless accident

Unfortunately this was another case of a needless accident causing a fatality at work. The fines levied were relative to the harm and negligence involved. When work is to take place on a site that has different contractors or pieces of work being undertaken it is imperative that work is notified, planned and co-ordinated in order that it is safe.