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METAL BEAM FELL ONTO BUSY LONDON STREET

Principal contractor and frame firm fined over injury and public risk

McClaren Construction Ltd and John Doyle Construction Ltd (now in liquidation) have been prosecuted after a 6m metal beam fell from the sixth floor of a building, striking and injuring a worker on a third floor scaffold before crashing onto a busy street in the City of London in October 2011.

The incident occurred during construction of a seven-storey hotel. The 32kg beam hit a 38-year-old building worker while he was on an access platform fracturing his ribs and vertebrae leaving him in hospital for a week and unable to work for two months.

Southwark Crown Court  heard (10 December) that several John Doyle workers were dismantling the temporary structural framework on the sixth floor of the building when they lost control of the beam. The beam fell outside the building striking the workman on a mobile work platform below and finally landing on a busy public highway. HSE told the court:

  • Contractor – failed to identify and implement reasonable control measures that should have been in place to prevent any beam from falling in that way;
  • Principal Contractor – approved the contractor work method statement and did not identify that controls were lacking; and
  • Both Contractors – failed to ensure no one was working below the areas where the framework structure was being dismantled.
PC failed to check contractor controls

McClaren Construction Ltd, of Brentwood, Essex, was fined £22,500 with £14,854 in costs after admitting a similar breach of the same Act. The court indicated that had the firm not been in liquidation, a £50,000 fine would have been imposed.

John Doyle Construction Ltd, registered with Administrators at Temple Quay, Bristol, was fined a nominal £1 with no order for costs after being found guilty of a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Eileen Gascoigne said:

“What happened at the building site that day had the potential to kill one or more workers and members of the public passing close by. It was entirely good fortune that the consequences were not even graver.

The incident was entirely preventable. The risks were foreseeable and the measures that needed to be in place are well-known in the industry and were readily implemented afterwards.

As an experienced principal contractor, McClaren failed to properly check the controls that John Doyle proposed for the work, and failed to implement their own procedures for ensuring there was no risk to either other contractors, or members of the public, from the work taking place.

John Doyle was also an experienced contractor and yet it too failed on an important safety issue.”

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