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CONCRETE UNIT COLLAPSE SPARKED BY DESIGN COMMS FAILURE

Precast contractor pays almost £1/4m over death and temporary works blunder

Creagh Concrete Products Ltd has been ordered to pay almost £1/4m in fines and prosecution costs after a carpenter died when he was struck by a falling pre-cast concrete unit during construction of new accommodation at Bath University. Philip Hames died whilst adjusting a prop securing the concrete unit when it fell on 1 November 2007.

The court heard that the position and type of supporting prop used was critical. However, placement was largely left to the workers to decide. One end of the concrete plank “rested on an asymmetric steel beam on a movement joint”.

The court heard the designs produced by Creagh Concrete Products Ltd failed to communicate to workers the nature of the expansion joint. In adjusting the prop, Mr Hames inadvertently destabilised the asymmetric beam on which the plank was resting.

Crucial that published temporary works guidance is followed

Creagh Concrete Products Ltd of Blackpark Road, Toomebridge, County Antrim was found guilty of a breach of Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £140,000 at Bristol Crown Court.

After the case, HSE Inspector Ian Smart, said:

“Unfortunately there has been a rise in the number of fatalities caused by the collapse of structures under construction or refurbishment over the past few years.

Mr Hames was an experienced carpenter but Creagh failed to recognise the scope of the work he was undertaking and failed to ensure he was made aware of how critical the placements of the props were and the fact they should not be adjusted. Therefore, Mr Hames would not have understood the outcome of his actions.

It was foreseeable he and other workers on site would seek to move props and robust steps should have been taken to prevent this. Since this incident, the published standard for temporary works has been revised. It provides additional clarity on respect of the safeguards associated with the temporary support of structures. It is crucial that this guidance is followed by the construction industry.”

HSE advises that British Standard, (BS 5975:2008 – Code of Practice for Temporary Works Procedures and the Permissible Stress Design of Falsework) published since the incident, clarifies how the temporary works should be managed on such a project and focuses on the competence of all parties.

Propping layout drawings should be produced backed up by engineering calculations. It identifies the role of a temporary works co-ordinators whose role includes ensuring that safety critical information is shared between contractors. All propping should be regularly checked by a competent, person and in particular prior to any additional loading.

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