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A construction giant and its subcontractor have been prosecuted by the HSE after two workers were seriously injured when a steel cage crashed into the platform they were working on.

The principal contractor was involved in the construction of the A566 bypass in Cheshire in the summer of 2015. The principal contractor appointed a sub contractor to construct seven bridges and an underpass. Work had started to build a pier designed to eventually support a bridge, which involved erecting a steel cage.

On 3 August, the two workers on a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) were working on the structure when it collapsed. The cage crashed into the MEWP, which fell on its side. The first employee sustained life changing head injuries and the second a leg fracture. A third worker nearby escaped injury by moving away just in time.

Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court was told that there was no temporary support for the reinforcement cage during construction of the central pier.

HSE investigators revealed both the principal contractor and the sub contractor were aware the cage was visibly leaning and that workers on site had raised concerns. Neither company recognised the inherent instability of the reinforcement cage or took measures to ensure the work could be carried out safely. The subcontractor failed to stop work to prevent injuries from the risk of collapse and to implement control measures to prevent instability. The principal contractor failed to plan, manage and monitor construction of the central pier.

The sub contractor admitted breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,730.
The principal contractor pleaded guilty to the same contraventions. It was fined £1.2 million and ordered to pay costs of £21,644.

‘The risk of collapse should have been identified by both companies,’ said HSE inspector Deborah Walker. ‘If a suitable safe system of work had been in place, this incident would not have occurred, and the two workers would not have suffered these injuries.’

Source – IOSH

HSCS Scotland Promoting a Healthier Workplace Through Safety

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