Temporary platform in shaft collapsed causing 10m fall on major project
St George South London Ltd (SGSL) has today (9th Jan) been sentenced after a construction worker was seriously injured when a temporary work platform “disintegrated” during a failed lifting operation on a major London project. SGSL was the project principal contractor.
Noel Doyle, aged 32, suffered a shattered right elbow, broken vertebrae, pelvis and ribs, and damage to internal organs when he fell some 10m at St George Wharf in Vauxhall on 10 February 2009. He required extensive treatment and physiotherapy, has limited movement in his right arm and is no longer able to work in construction.
Southwark Crown Court heard that Mr Doyle was helping two colleagues, including a foreman, to raise a temporary work platform inside a concrete stairwell shaft within a building under construction. The platform was lifted from one floor to another by a crane using four lifting chains before being locked in place in the shaft to enable the next level to be constructed.
The platform was raised to a new level when the crane operator was inadvertently instructed by the foreman to move away whilst one of the lifting chains was still attached to the platform which then disintegrated. Two workmen managed to jump to safety but Mr Doyle was unable to do so. He fell into the shaft and parts of the platform and equipment came “raining down” on him.
HSE investigators found that SGSL failed to properly plan and manage the construction work so as to avoid risks to safety. The company failed to ensure that contractors developed and implemented safe systems of work, particularly in relation to the management and use of temporary works.
PC inspections superficial and did not identify significant systemic failures
St George South London Ltd, of St George House, The Boulevard, Imperial Wharf, Fulham, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £27,386 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company subcontracted for the construction of the reinforced concrete frame of the building was also prosecuted over the incident.
After sentencing HSE Inspector Loraine Charles said:
“It is vitally important that principal contractors appreciate that managing and monitoring subcontractors involves more than merely requiring them to provide risk assessments and method statements, and then carrying out basic hazard spotting inspections.
They need to make sure that there is a proper assessment of the content of the documentation provided to ensure that they make sense and properly address the risks associated with the work being undertaken.
In this case, St George South London concerned themselves more with the existence than the content of the subcontractor safety documents, and although they themselves carried out regular site safety inspections, all of these were superficial and failed to identify significant systemic failures.”