A resident at a block of flats had a hair-raising escape after a walkway to his home collapsed.
Preston Crown Court heard that Andrew Bleasedale had just returned to Newby Place, Mereside, Blackpool, on May 29 2012, when he felt the balcony shift between his feet.
Health and Safety officials took Blackpool Coastal Housing (BCH) to court after finding that the firm had known about the dangers involved in the walkways for years without taking remedial action.
Slip and fall risk
The court heard that BCH had assumed responsibility for the flats in January 2007 from Blackpool Borough Council.
Accident claims centre on the fact that the local authority had previously arranged for a survey of the walkways after a worker noticed several handrail fixtures had become detached from the wall.
Structural problems were pinpointed at Newby place and two other blocks of flats nearby, and the council was given anti-accident advice that major repair work was required. However, BCH did not undertake the repairs, even though some managers at the company knew all about the structural problem in 2007.
Although the company brought in a structural engineering consultant in late 2008, his recommendations were not followed. Temporary scaffolding was put up under some balconies opposite Mr Bleasedale’s residence, although it is unlikely these would have supported them had they fallen.
BCH began work to replace the troublesome balconies in May 2012, during which the site manager reported concerns that the structures at Newby Place may be unsafe – however, once more, no action was taken.
The court heard that BCH also misled health and safety investigators about its knowledge of the building’s structural flaws, with an inquiry discovering documents reaching back as far as 2006.
The firm, based in Abingdon Street, Blackpool, admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £27,821 in costs.