Two building companies in North West England have been fined by the Health and Safety Executive after three people were injured in a mansion collapse.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that property developer Belmont Homes had brought in several contractors, including bricklaying firm Waymac, to assist in the construction of a four-storey property in Bowdon, Cheshire valued at £2 million.
During the construction project, the two companies discovered that the frame for the building's first floor was higher than it should have been and needed to be lowered. Rectifying this issue would involve reducing the height of concrete padstones that rested on a frame and was considered relatively complex.
As the concrete beams were being put in, the floor that three builders were standing on collapsed, with the heavy objects falling around them.
Two workers managed to escape with relatively minor injuries, but one was not so lucky. One of the men put up his left arm to protect his head from a falling concrete beam, which weighed half a tonne, but the 47-year-old employee from Wythenshawe could not avoid the beam.
After being rushed to hospital, the man was diagnosed with a crushed arm, punctured lung, broken collar bone, back injuries and fractured ribs.
Since the accident he has not been able to use his left hand and only has limited movement in his left arm, meaning he has been prevented from returning to employment.
Work Accident Investigation
A work accident investigation by the HSE found that work to reduce the level of one floor of the mansion building was "poorly planned" and neither Waymac nor Belmont Homes had properly considered the risks posed to workers involved in the project.
For its part in the accident, Belmont Homes of Budworth Heath in Cheshire was fined £33,000 and told to pay costs of £15,000 after it pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Waymac was also prosecuted by the HSE, and was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 by failing to ensure the structure did not collapse as a result of its work.
"Accident Could Have Been Avoided"
Speaking after the two hearings, both held at Liverpool Crown Court, HSE principal inspector Neil Jamieson criticised both companies for failing to protect their workers.
"One of the workers has suffered devastating injuries as a result of the collapse and the other two were lucky not to have been more seriously injured or even killed," Mr Jamieson said.
"Belmont was responsible for the overall management of the work and the company failed to get a grip of the project. Waymac is also an experienced bricklaying firm and it should have been obvious to both companies that lifting and lowering the floor could be dangerous.
"They should have sought the advice of a structural engineer before allowing the work to go ahead. If they had then the injuries the workers suffered could have been avoided."