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CLIENT FINED AFTER STRUCTURAL COLLAPSE

Collapse of East London Building puts client in court

Citytex UK Ltd, a clothing importer of Greatorex Street, Tower Hamlets has been ordered to pay £45k in fines and prosecution costs after part of its building collapsed in February 2007, with more than 20 people inside. 

The company was also ordered to pay £200 each, to four people who were in the building when it collapsed. No one was killed or injured in the collapse.

The court heard that on 13 February 2007, the buildings on Commercial Road, Tower Hamlets, were undergoing construction works. The company employees were working throughout the building while builders were on the site.

Work was being carried out on a wall at first floor level at the front of the building. A large gap had been made in the brick work and chimney breasts had been removed.

At approximately 4.30pm the front elevation collapsed, and large amounts of debris fell onto the pavement nearby. The scaffolding at the front of the property fell onto a lamppost preventing the bulk of the rubble landing on passers-by and on the road.

The road, which is a major thoroughfare, was closed for several days while rescuers searched the rubble for any victims.

HSE found that plans for the work had been drawn up by architects and structural consultants. The Managing Director of the clothing company was acting as the principal contractor and was being assisted by his teenage son.

There was no construction phase plan and the architect was not aware that any work was being carried out on the first floor. HSE had not been notified that any improvement work was taking place.

HSE Inspector, Sarah Snelling, said: “More than 20 people were in this building when it collapsed and it was sheer luck that no one was seriously injured or even killed in this incident.

Construction work must be planned and carried out by competent builders. If not, it can lead to a number of risks including collapse. If Citytex UK Ltd had complied with its legal duties by appointing a Planning Supervisor, and a competent Principal Contractor, then the risks would have been substantially reduced.”

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