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COLLAPSE CAUSED BY FAILURE TO FOLLOW DESIGNER PROPOSAL

Huge fine and costs over failed concrete plank support on basement project

Landmark Groundworks Ltd has been ordered to pay £160,000 in fines and prosecution costs after a worker narrowly escaped death when 9 tonnes of steel and concrete collapsed.

Bola Akinola, 48, fell more than 4m when steelwork supporting concrete floor planks failed at a site in Kent on 9 May 2009. He suffered multiple fractures to his pelvis, leg and arm and was in hospital for several weeks and was unable to work for nearly a year. He has still not regained full mobility in his left arm.

Maidstone Crown Court heard, in the nine day trial, that Mr Akinola was involved in construction of a large new basement alongside an empty house that was being refurbished and extended. Landmark Groundworks was contracted to oversee the project and provide supporting steelwork.

Some 50 concrete floor planks had been laid for the ground floor and four planks were laid on a beam that had not been fixed at one end and only held with small welds at the other. The beam tilted and gave way while workers were standing on the planks.

Matter of luck that the collapse did not result in multiple fatalities

HSE investigators found that Landmark Groundworks:

  • failed to follow established procedures designed to avoid this type of incident;
  • ignored design proposals by two structural engineers that would have helped ensure safety; and
  • did not carry out checks on the installation to ensure it was ready to load out.

The company, of Wren House, Portsmouth Road, Esher, was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 in costs after being found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE Inspector John Underwood said:

“Buildings do not build themselves. The process needs to be actively managed to ensure that sub-contractors get the correct information and use it.

It is completely unacceptable for a main contactor, Landmark Groundworks Ltd, to allow work to continue with a botched design, and with no checks carried out on either the design or the installation.

This incident resulted in life-changing injuries to Mr Akinola and it was a matter of luck that the collapse of nearly nine tonnes of building material did not result in multiple fatalities.”

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