The collapse of a balcony in London causing the death of two workers was “foreseeable and preventable”, the Old Bailey has heard.
The two men fell to their deaths after trying to lift a sofa over a first floor balcony during the renovation of a multi-million pound luxury flat in November 2014.
Tomasz Procko, 22, and Karol Symanski, 29, were attempting to get the sofa up to the apartment. As it was too large to go up the stairs, five workers were tasked with hauling it up from the pavement to the balcony.
During this manoeuvre, the workers were hauling against and leaning over the balustrade, which was 20 feet above the ground.
The 130-year-old Victorian cast iron balustrade suddenly gave way, causing two of the men to fall to their deaths. A third man was only saved by being grabbed by his colleagues.
Martinisation (London) Limited, the firm engaged in the £600,000 renovation project, denies health and safety breaches and two counts of corporate manslaughter
The firm and its managing director, Martin Gutaj, 43, from Brentford, are currently on trial at the Old Bailey. Mr Gutaj also denies breaching health and safety standards.
Details of the case
Prosecutor Adrian Darbishire QC said: “The prosecution case is that the deaths of those two men were not simply an accident.
“That is not to suggest anybody wanted or intended anybody to come to harm.
“The fact that the men were hauling the sofa up in the dangerous way that they were was the result of a long and unhappy history of neglect of health and safety at the company which employed them.
“It was an accident but it was an entirely foreseeable and preventable one.”
Jurors also heard that on the day there was a basic failure in identifying who was in charge on site.
It’s alleged the company and Mr Gutaj had been previously warned about the importance of having trained, competent and effective supervisors on site.
Jurors also heard the company allegedly didn’t include instructions on lifting operations and what should be done if an item was too large or heavy to take through the common area of the property.
It was also claimed in court that the entire workforce spoke Polish as their first language, yet the risk assessment was only available in English.
Source: The Telegraph
Date Published: May 7, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown