Cundall Johnston and Partners LLP and Brims Construction Ltd have been prosecuted under the Construction, Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2007 after a 2 tonne brick archway collapsed injuring two workers. The incident occurred on a major refurbishment project at a former toffee factory in Newcastle, on 15 February 2011.
The two men were “shoring up” the arch after it become unstable due to the removal of masonry on one of the support pillars. One fractured a foot and the other injured his back in the incident
Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard that brick pillars adjoining the archway had been weakened after ‘pockets’ were created in the masonry to hold steel beams, which were being installed as part of a major refurbishment of the former confectionary building.
The court was told the removal of the masonry caused the arch to become unstable, as the pillar had acted as a buttress. The condition of the arch was brought to the attention of Brims’ site foreman who instructed the two joiners to shore it up. A plan of work was devised but it was not reviewed by Brims to check that it was a safe method of working.
Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors found that Cundall Johnston and Partners LLP had not provided information in its designs to ensure those carrying out the work would have known removing the masonry would cause the archway to become unstable. Brims Construction Ltd failed to plan and manage the work to deal with the unstable archway safely.
Cundall Johnston and Partners LLP, of Newcastle pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 11(6)(c) and the company was fined £1,000 with costs of £7,000. Regulation 11(6)(c) requires that a designer take all reasonable steps to provide with designs sufficient information about aspects of the design of the structure or its construction or maintenance as will adequately assist contractors to comply with their duties.
Brims Construction Ltd, of Sunderland, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007. Regulation 22(1)(a) requires that the project principal contractor must plan, manage and monitor the construction phase in a way which ensures it is carried out without risks to health or safety.
Speaking after the case HSE Inspector Keith Partington said:
“Fortunately the injuries suffered by the workers were not serious. However, if could have been a lot worse as around two tonnes of brickwork fell down when the arch collapsed. This incident could have easily been avoided.
Firstly, if the designers had ensured sufficient information was available in the drawings it would have alerted those carrying out the work to the potential dangers to start with.
Brims should also have properly planned and managed the work.”
Source: Heath and Safety Executive
Lighthouse Safety Comments: It is very rare that a designer gets prosecuted under Construction, Design and Management (CDM) 07 for failure to provide sufficient information. However, it does show that the CDM 07 regulations are working and do have power over designers. Often, many staff become designers without knowing so. Anyone on a construction task that changes a design even slightly becomes a designer, even clients. Get help over CDM and book a course today.