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£17,000 fines after worker hurt when wall collapses

10 March 2017

A Manchester building contractor and a company owner have been fined a total of £17,000 after a worker was seriously injured on a refurbishment site.

The 53-year-old father of two from Salford was employed as a labourer at Manchester One, Portland Street Manchester when the incident occurred on 29 August 2014.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how two operatives working for Access Flooring Specialist Ltd had started the demolition of a freestanding concrete block wall on the site using a demolition hammer.

One of the men started to cut into the wall just above the half way point. A second man then took over and continued from the top, using step ladders for access. As he did so, the top half of the wall collapsed knocking him from the ladder and landing on top of him.

The injured person suffered fractures to his neck and back and spent three months in hospital following the incident. He has been unable to return to work since.

The incident was investigated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and on 9 March Workspace Design & Build Ltd, the principal contractor for the project, and Paul Harrison, a former director of Access Flooring Specialist Ltd, were prosecuted for serious safety failings.

HSE found there was no suitable risk assessment in place for the work and the workers had not been provided with suitable instructions for carrying out this task safely. No checks had been made regarding the injured worker's training or experience, he was not provided with site induction or adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task and the work on site was not being supervised.

Workspace Design & Build Ltd, of Manchester One, Portland Street, Manchester, pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £14,000 with £2,972 costs.

Paul Harrison, of Kirkfell Drive, Tyldsley, Manchester, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 37 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 relating to his company's breach of Regulation 13 (2) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £1,300 and ordered to pay costs of £2,851.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Laura Moran said: “The risks associated with the demolition of the internal walls at Manchester One were not properly considered and, as a result, there was no safe system of work in place for the operatives to follow.

“Together with a lack of adequate supervision, these failings resulted in one man suffering serious and life changing injuries, which could have been prevented had the work been properly planned and managed.”

For more information from HSE about working safely at demolition sites, click here.


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