A building firm in Manchester and a company director have been fined thousands of pounds after a worker suffered life-changing injuries when a wall he was demolishing collapsed on top of him.
A 53-year-old man was employed by Access Flooring Specialist Ltd when the workplace incident occurred on Portland Street in Manchester in August, 2014.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Workspace Design and Build Ltd, the principal contractor at the site, and Paul Harrison, former director of Access Flooring Specialist Ltd, had committed serious safety failings and brought about the prosecution.
The father of two from Salford sustained neck and spinal fractures that resulted in him spending three months in hospital. To date he has not been able to return to work.
He was working with another operative on the refurbishment of Manchester One, formerly known as the Portland Tower, and began demolishing a free-standing concrete block wall using a demolition hammer, Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard.
As one of the workers started dismantling the structure from the top using step ladders, another man had already begun cutting the wall at the half way point. This caused the collapse.
The wall crumbled and landed on top of the employee, crushing him underneath the concrete blocks.
Serious safety failings
The HSE said a risk assessment was not in place for the demolition work and there was a lack of adequate training or checks about the workers’ suitability to the task.
The employee was not provided with any personal protective equipment and was not supervised while undertaking the work.
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.”
Workspace Design and Build Ltd was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2972 after pleading guilty to breach of Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Paul Harrison pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 37 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 relating to his company’s breach of Regulation 13 (2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
The judge ordered him to pay a fine of £1300 and costs of £2851.
Ms Moran added: “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.”
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: March 28, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown