Construction firm fined £110,000 for floor collapse30 July 2012
A construction company has been found guilty of ignoring design proposals during a renovation project in Kent, where a worker fell four metres when a floor collapsed.
Maidstone Crown Court heard that Landmark Groundworks Ltd was contracted to provide supporting steelwork and oversee the construction of a basement alongside an empty house. The project was part of a refurbishment and extension of the property.
Bola Akinola, 48, was working as a plank installer for a separate contractor when the incident took place at the site in Westerham, Kent on 9 May 2009.
Mr Akinola’s employer laid 50 concrete floor planks, each weighing almost two tonnes, to form the ground floor. Four of the planks were laid on a beam, which had not been fixed at one end and was only held by small welds at the other.
When Mr Akinola and another worker stood on the planks, the beam tilted and gave way. Mr Akinola fell four metres into the basement, as did three of the planks and the supporting steelwork. He suffered multiple fractures to his pelvis, leg and arms and he has still not regained full mobility in his left arm. He was unable to return to work for nearly a year owing to his injuries. The other worker managed to jump to safety as the floor gave way.
An investigation by the HSE found that Landmark Groundworks had ignored design proposals by two structural engineers, which would have ensured the project was carried out safely. It also failed to check that the installation was ready to bear a load.
HSE inspector John Underwood said: “Buildings do not build themselves. The process needs to be actively managed to ensure that sub-contractors get the correct information and use it.
“It’s completely unacceptable for a main contactor, Landmark Groundworks Ltd, to allow work to continue with a botched design, and with no checks carried out on either the design or the installation.
Landmark Groundworks was found guilty of breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974 on 27 July, following a nine-day trial. It was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 in costs.
After the hearing, inspector Underwood added: “This incident resulted in life-changing injuries to Mr Akinola and it was a matter of luck that the collapse of nearly nine tonnes of building material did not result in multiple fatalities.”
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