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MAJOR PLAYER FAILED TO FOLLOW TW PROCEDURES

Collapse of rebar structure caused by inadequate temporary works support

Costain Ltd and Bell Formwork Services Ltd have been prosecuted after a rebar structure collapsed on a Birmingham project in November 2012 causing two workers to fall from a scissor-lift. The defendants were involved in construction of a concrete tank at a new pumping station and water treatment site.

Birmingham Magistrates heard today (2 Feb) that two steel fixers were working at 5m above ground in separate scissor-lifts when reinforcing bar structure collapsed knocking over both scissor-lifts with the operators still inside.

One workman remained in the platform when it landed and crashed into a nearby support frame. He suffered bruising and pain in his leg and shoulder. His colleague was propelled from the platform and suffered bruises to his head, legs and body. Three other workers on the ground took cover and avoided injury.

HSE investigators identified that the steel reinforcement was unstable due to its size, “slenderness” of the steel and the weight of the steel at a high level. Temporary support should have been in place every 7m whereas only two support frames were used at 8.3m spacing leaving an 8m section unsupported.

Principal contractor Costain Limited failed to “plan, manage or monitor” the work properly despite being aware of the risk and the need for temporary support. A similar collapse had taken place in March of the same year at another site.

Temporary works require equal care and attention

The Principal Contractor failed to apply their own temporary works management arrangements which would have included a series of checks. There was “no managerial level supervision or monitoring during these early stages of the work”.

Costain Ltd of Vanwell Business Park, Maidenhead, Berkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and were fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,980.

Bell Formwork Services Ltd of Pinchbeck Road, Spalding, pleaded guilty to a separate breach of the same regulations and was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £1,851 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Luke Messenger said:

“This was a serious incident and considering the size and weight of the wall, and the height from which the scissor-lifts overturned, it is extremely fortunate that no serious or even fatal injuries occurred.

Construction and related companies need to ensure that the same degree of care and attention is given to the design and construction of temporary structures as it is to the design and construction of permanent works. Everything must be properly planned so it can be carried out safely by their staff.

Both companies were experienced in their industry and should have done better.”

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