HSE finishes scaffolding investigation into the ‘Miracle of Pond Street’
People ran for their lives when structure came down
26 March, 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby
The scene in Pond Street in March 2019
SAFETY experts have made a series of recommendations after investigating a dramatic scaffolding collapse in Hampstead, which onlookers called the “Miracle of Pond Street” because nobody has hurt.
The Health and Safety Executive said it had now finished its review into how four storeys of scaffolding and sheeting fell to the ground in March 2019.
People ran for their lives as the structure came down in high winds but, despite reports of several near misses, nobody was injured.
ALB Scaffolding Limited described the incident as an “unfortunate and regrettable event” which “has been a lesson for the construction industry and all who work within it”.
It said it was not the principal contractor on the site but had already “incorporated” a list of procedures drawn up by the HSE – the government-appointed safety watchdog that probes the circumstances of significant incidents.
SEE ALSO ‘WE EXPECTED TO SEE BODIES’ (MARCH 2019)
It is estimated around 200 square metres of scaffolding fell, while chimneys, rain pipes, timber, bricks and other debris also fell onto the street, just a short distance from the Royal Free Hospital.
Long-standing flower seller John Atkins said at the time that he believed he and his wife Elaine were saved by a lamppost that had diverted the debris.
ALB Scaffolding had been issued with a Notification of Contravention, the HSE said.
This is not a public document, however HSE has released the list of improvements it wants to see from the company, including hiring competent staff, planning work effectively, providing resources to deliver the work, and monitoring work to ensure health and safety standards are kept, including carrying out risk assessments.
The company was also asked to demonstrate to HSE how it plans to implement their learnings in the future and on current sites.
In its statement this week, ALB Scaffolding said the business was now under new management and its last company director, Behar Hafuz, had resigned in November. It said it was “continually reviewing procedures”, had “fully cooperated and worked with the HSE” and that it was “a single incident within the company’s history”, adding: “No prosecution or fines have been imposed nor any legal action has been taken by the HSE.”
The ALB statement added: “The company is fully committed to health and safety of not only its employees but also its responsibilities and duty of care to the general public and others and aims to maintain its highest of standards.
“Over the past two years since the unfortunate incident where no one was injured or impacted, the business has taken major steps and expanded and hired additional resources and labour.”
A Camden Council spokesperson said this week: “The scaffolding company met their responsibilities following this incident, while the damaged street light was made safe and removed by the council’s lighting contractor. “The council is in the process of recovering these costs.”