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FAILURE OF ANCHOR BOLTS CAUSED FATAL COLLAPSE

Lack of critical checks by Principal Contractor and others

Morris & Spottiswood Ltd of Glasgow has been sentenced for contravening safety requirements after a worker was crushed to death when a 1.6 tonnes frame fell during construction of a steel stair tower. Daniel Hurley, aged 31 year was a groundworker employed by a company contracted by Morris & Spottiswood (the CDM Principal Contractor) to work on a major development of flats and in Glasgow in October 2009.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard (24 June) that Mr Hurley had been operating a ‘whacker’ to compact hardcore next to an area where structural steelwork for a stair tower was being erected. The steel frame was lowered into position and the lifting chains released when the structure tilted and fell towards Mr Hurley. Three anchor bolts were pulled “clear out of the ground” and fourth bolt snapped in half.

A steel erector shouted a warning and Mr Hurley who was running away as he was struck by the top beam of the frame across his shoulders and neck forcing him down onto the ground and causing fatal crush injuries.

The court was told that the steel fabrication company contracted to design the steelwork and a second company commissioned to erect it were also both found to be at fault but had since ceased trading.

Bolts ‘poorly installed’ and could be moved by hand

The HSE investigation found that remaining foundation resin anchor bolts installed by Morris and Spottiswood Ltd were so poorly installed that they could be moved by hand and one was pulled out of the concrete foundation by the investigating inspector. Failure to check the bolts capacity combined with the chosen method of erection contributed to the fatal collapse.

Morris & Spottiswood failed to review the risk assessments and method statements submitted by the steelwork contractor for the task and had failed to establish and maintain an exclusion zone around the steelwork while erection was being carried out.

Exclusion zone created post incident

Following the incident, Morris & Spottiswood Ltd contracted a specialist company to replace all of the anchor bolts they had previously installed for this phase of the project. Metal fence panels available on site were also used to create exclusion zones around any remaining steel erection works.

Morris & Spottiswood Ltd, of Helen Street, Glasgow, was fined £200,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Gerard McCulloch, said:

“Morris & Spottiswood Ltd as principal contractor, and the two companies sub-contracted for the steelwork construction, had duties to work together to plan, manager and monitor the work to ensure it was carried out safely.

It is clear all three companies failed in this duty and it was these failings that led to the tragic death of Mr Hurley.”

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