Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
September 9, 2010

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

School fined £25k for classroom demolition death

A worker was crushed to death during the demolition of a building at a boarding school in Shropshire.

Shrewsbury Crown Court heard that Christopher Morris had been contracted to demolish a large wooden classroom at Moor Park School. Morris had sub-contracted Mark Evans, 40, to work as part of a team of general labourers during the demolition.

On 14 August 2007, Mr Evans and four other workers removed integral building supports from inside the classroom, which caused the roof to collapse. The roof, which weighed 2.4 tonnes, fell on top of Mr Evans and he died at the scene as a result of asphyxiation.

Part of the roof landed on a dumper truck that was parked inside the building and created an escape route for the other four men, who managed to avoid serious injury.

The HSE’s investigation identified that Morris had failed to put an effective plan in place to safely remove the supports, and the labourers he had contracted to do the work had no training or experience in how to carry out the work.

Moor Park Charitable Trust Ltd, which runs the school, appeared in court on 3 September and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 in costs. The school had no previous convictions and entered an early guilty plea.

HSE inspector Nic Rigby said: “There were five men inside this building when it collapsed. Mr Evans paid the ultimate price for the school’s failings. But for sheer good fortune, all five of them could have been killed.

“But Mr Evans and the other workers should not have been put at such increased risk.  Had Moor Park School taken reasonable steps to properly consider the demolition work, they would have appointed a competent and experienced contractor, and avoided the roof collapse.

“This awful event and the prosecution of the school must send a very clear message to all those who commission construction or demolition work. It must be properly planned and carried out by those with the experience and competence to do so.”
 

The Safety Conversation Podcast: Listen now!

The Safety Conversation with SHP (previously the Safety and Health Podcast) aims to bring you the latest news, insights and legislation updates in the form of interviews, discussions and panel debates from leading figures within the profession.

Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts, subscribe and join the conversation today!

Related Topics

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

10 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Abuck
Abuck
13 years ago

We are always going to be doomed to assumptions when posting comments unless the original SHP report is sufficiently detailed in terms of why a particular individual/organisation was prosecuted. The full story often only slowly emerges after many comments are posted.

Unfortunately this devalues Comments as respondents end up chasing into blind alleys rather than having informed and useful exchanges.

I appreciate that space is always limited but is there a way SHPeditor can address this?

Andy
Andy
13 years ago

So the main contractor get’s off free even though it was his job to plan and carry out the work, and the school gets prosecuted because the contractor they picked said he could do the job but wasn’t actually competent…. The school took damage limitation but could have won an appeal if they hadn’t been bullied into pleading guilty … If they took steps to confirm if the contractor said he was up to the job (eg a written contract) then surely the main contractor should be held responsible

Edward
Edward
13 years ago

It is not hard to see how this came about. It probably looked like a simple job (just a big shed really) and Morris was probably said it was well within his ability. In all likelihood it never occurred to the school that this was a demolition job!

When it comes to prosecutions it is nearly always a case of going for the money. Not much point is landing a large fine and costs on a self employed builder who probably has few assets and will never pay – so they go for the charity and school.

John
John
13 years ago

Did Christopher Morris get prosectuted at all as being the main contractor & his failings for not ensuring the labourers were competent and ensuring they could safely remove the supports, or was it just the school that got prosecuted for failing to appoint a competent and experienced contractor?

John
John
13 years ago

There is more to this than it seems. The school had a Planning Supervisor appointed for the new build but not for the demolition and the demo was not mentioned in the H&S plan. The school was the Principal Contractor and Morris was a subcontractor to the school. It is a catalogue of errors throughout compounded by the school rejecting a quote from a demolition contractor as being too high.

John
John
13 years ago

I can confirm that the school was both Client & Principal Contractor on this occasion.

Martin
Martin
13 years ago

I thoroughly agree with the first two respondents.

Has this case been reported correctly by SHP? Clearly it is the Contractor who plans the work, not the school!

We need to get all the facts here. If these show the school to be wholly responsible for the death why is the fine only £25k and is it not corporate manslaughter?

Pbowes
Pbowes
13 years ago

The issue here is who was acting as the main contractor?

If the school was acting as the Main contractor then it was their responsibility to ensure that the sub-contractor Mr Morris was competent to carry out the works, and most importantly, they would have had to produce the safe method statement and risk assessment associated to demolish the building.

If Mr Morris then ignored these proceedures then the school would still be liable.

This is a common trap for schools to use a handy man

Shpeditor
Shpeditor
13 years ago

The inspector has stressed that, in the HSE’s view, the principal failing lay with the school in failing to check the competence of the men to carry out demolition work. The school arranged for Mr Morris to carry out the work, and Mr Morris then enlisted the help of a group of self-employed building workers. But SHP understands the arrangement was not a formal contractor/client relationship and Mr Morris, too, was a self-employed general labourer.

Shpeditor
Shpeditor
13 years ago

SHP always endeavours to report court prosecutions comprehensively and accurately but, as AndyB notes, space is limited. To a degree we are also restricted to what the inspector wishes to tell us and whether facts came out in court or not, i.e. whether facts are in the public domain. The comment facility is not really designed to be a discussion forum but does allow our knowledgeable readers to stir debate or pose queries – which we try to follow up. Comments are valuable for this very reason.

Topics: