Construction giant and subcontractor in court after metal frame collapsed

A construction firm and a concrete contractor have been fined after a metal frame collapsed at a site in Birmingham, by this happening ended up with the two scissor lifts which were beside the steel frame being knocked over.

Bellwork Formwork services had been subcontracted by Costain Ltd to build the metal frame for a concrete tank for a new pumping station and water treatment site at a water treatment works site.

The court heard that two steel fixers had been raised nearly 5 metres above ground in separate scissor lifts to take measurements of the tank wall.

Neither of the workers were seriously hurt during the incident both just suffering bruising from the falls. However one stayed in the lift another was propelled but wasn’t seriously hurt.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the accident on 12 November 2012 found both of the companies had failed to ensure that workers were able to do their job safely.

The HSE also identified that the steel reinforcement for the tank walls which measured at 21m long and 6.3 m high was unstable due to the size of the structure.

A support should have been put in place every 7 metres, However on the day only two support frames were used at the 8.3 metre spacing leaving a section unsupported.

HSE found principal contractor Costain Limited did not plan, manage or monitor the work properly. They were aware of the risks of collapse and the need for temporary support, including from a similar collapse in March of the same year at another site.

Bell Formwork Services Limited failed to ensure that all practicable steps had been taken to prevent danger to persons, to ensure the reinforcement did not collapse.

They then did not take reasonable steps to prevent the collapse of the wall and failed to identify that support was inadequate because there was no managerial level supervision or monitoring during these early stages of the work.

Costain Ltd 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 pleaded guilty to a separate breach of the same regulations and were fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £1,851 costs.

Regulation 22(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: “The principal contractor for a project shall plan, manage and monitor the construction phase in a way which ensures that, so far as is reasonably practicable, it is carried out without risks to health or safety

Regulation 25(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: “Every contractor carrying out construction work shall comply with the requirements of regulations 26 to 44 insofar as they affect him or any person carrying out construction work under his control or relate to matters within his control.”

Source: HSE