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Scaffold firm ruins wedding day

7 Sep 11 A scaffolding company has been fined after the floor of a marquee collapsed just as 150 guests sat down to enjoy a wedding breakfast.

Block Scaffolding Ltd had built a scaffold structure to provide a level platform for a marquee on a sloping lawn at West Woodhay House in Newbury.

In a prosecution brought by the Health & Safety Executive, West Berkshire Magistrates' Court heard that on Saturday 25 September 2010, catering staff were just about to serve the first course of the wedding breakfast to guests when the scaffolding beneath the marquee floor collapsed.

Magistrates were told the floor dropped more than four feet in places, causing the bridal couple and 150 guests to fall to the ground along with tables, chairs, cutlery and glassware. Scaffold poles also fell into the marquee, narrowly missing guests.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Joanne Woodcock said: "The scene after the incident was shocking, with broken glass and crockery everywhere. The collapse must have been terrifying for the bride, groom and their guests.

"A couple's wedding day was ruined and guests unwittingly risked being seriously injured, simply because Block Scaffolding Ltd overlooked basic health and safety.

"The fact no one was seriously injured is solely down to good fortune. This prosecution should serve as a warning that HSE will take action against anyone failing to build safe scaffolding."

Block Scaffolding Limited of Myrtle Drive, Blackwater, Camberley, Surrey, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,370.

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