Two-tonne archway collapsed during refurbishment
Two firms have been fined after a brick archway collapsed and injured two workers during a major refurbishment project in Newcastle.
The two-tonne archway, at the former toffee factory in Ouseburn, had become unstable due to the removal of some masonry on one of the support pillars. The two workers, both joiners, were shoring up the arch when it collapsed, on 15 February 2011. One of the workers injured his back, while the other fractured his foot.
Cundall Johnston and Partners LLP, the designers on the project, and Brims Construction Ltd, the principal contractor, were both prosecuted by the HSE after an investigation into the collapse identified numerous safety failings.
Newcastle Magistrates’ Court was told that brick pillars adjoining the archway had been weakened after ‘pockets’ were created in the masonry to hold steel beams. The removal of the masonry caused the arch to become unstable, as the pillars had acted as a buttress. Brims’ site foreman was made aware of the condition of the arch and instructed the two joiners to shore it up.
The workers created a plan of work but it was not reviewed by Brims to check it was a safe method of working. The court was told that Brims Construction Ltd failed to plan and manage the work to deal with the unstable archway safely.
The HSE inspection found that Cundall Johnston and Partners LLP didn’t provide sufficient information in their designs to ensure those carrying out the work would have known removing the masonry would have caused the archway to become unstable.
The inspection found that several steps could have been taken to avoid the incident, including supporting the arch before the work started, or carrying out a controlled demolition prior to rebuilding the arch.
Sentenced on 1 August, Brims Construction Ltd, of Sunderland, was fined £1000 and ordered to pay £5000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Cundall Johnston and Partners LLP, of Newcastle, was fined £1000 and ordered to pay costs of £7000 after pleading guilty to a breach of regulation 11(6)(c) of the same legislation.
HSE inspector Keith Partington said: “The incident could have easily been avoided. If the designers had ensured sufficient information was available in the drawings, it would have alerted those carrying out the work to the potential dangers to start with. Brims should also have properly planned and managed the work.
In mitigation both companies issued an early guilty plea and pointed to their previously unblemished safety records. Following the incident, Brims Construction implemented a ‘temporary works procedure’ and reviewed its risk-assessment procedures.
Remain compliant, save money and stay up to date
Staying up to date with the latest legislation and guidance
can be a real nightmare, Barbour EHS can help you to find everything you need to see from over 800 trusted industry sources in one handy place
, and you can even set up bespoke alert updates
highlighting specific information.
Barbour also provides you with practical tools
to help you with the task of keeping stakeholders around your organisation in the know and there is so much more we can offer you too.
Click here to request more information