Two Construction companies fined £100,000 for failing in duty to protect safety of employees… A total of seven construction workers were thankful they escaped with their lives after 250 tonnes of wet concrete collapsed at a site at Liverpool John Moores University.
The workers had been pumping concrete onto the third floor of a new building at the University on 19 September 2007 when the scaffolding they had erected to support the concrete could no longer hold the weight and collapsed onto them bringing the cement down with it. The workers sustained a series of injuries from cement burns to broken bones.
The two companies responsible for the building job which involved the construction of an atrium for the new Art and Design Academy at the University have been fined £100,000 for failing in their duty to protect the safety of their employees at their place of work.
The HSE investigation into the accident discovered that the contractor for the construction work along with the concrete subcontractor gave the go ahead for the supporting structure to be used despite the fact it was based on a preliminary design and had been marked as “for discussion and pricing purposes only”. The design did not have all the necessary detail on erecting the scaffolding in a safe and secure manner and there was no check or review carried out on the durability of the support scaffolding before the massive amounts of concrete were poured onto it.
On 10 April 2012 both companies pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and both were fined £50,000 in addition to costs of £35,591.
Susan Ritches, the HSE Inspector who investigated the case commented after the hearing:
“This incident resulted in seven men falling roughly ten metres onto wet concrete which contained various bits of metal and wood.
“The companies should have made sure they had an appropriate design they could use to build from, and that the structure was inspected before the concrete was poured.
“Instead, more than 250 tonnes of concrete was poured onto scaffolding incapable of taking such loads and the inevitable happened – it collapsed. These basic errors could easily have resulted in several people losing their lives.
“This incident should act as a stark reminder that if you fail to plan and manage projects properly then there is a real potential for things to go seriously wrong.”