A Welsh demolitions firm has been heavily fined after two of its workers were injured in a floor collapse.
The two workers, who asked not to be named for personal reasons, were carrying out work for Wrexham Demolition and Dismantling Ltd on 9 September 2008 when the accident occurred. The two employees were on the day in question dismantling the internal structure of a former factory in Cardiff. As part of this work the employees were required to demolish a mezzanine floor in the building. This part of the work was particularly more complex than the preceding work that had been carried out because of the necessity to preserve parts of the building whilst doing so but the company failed to undertake a further assessment of the work or adjust its working methods. When the workers started working on dismantling the last part of the mezzanine level a section of the floor therefore collapsed, causing them to be trapped beneath it. This led to one of the workers sustaining a fracture to his spine and losing the toes and ball of his left foot. His colleague suffered multiple fracture to his arms, a dislocated arm and cracked ribs. Both of the workers needed a significant time off work because they could return to employment.
It is not known whether the two workers have claimed or may claim personal injury because of the accident.
The Health and Safety Executive was subsequently informed of the accident and took steps to investigate its circumstances. This investigation found that there were the following breaches of health and safety regulations committed by Wrexham Demolition and Dismantling Ltd:
- A failure to reassess the work and put in place a new safe system of work
- A failure to properly plan and supervise the work
The Health and Safety Executive therefore recommended that the company be prosecuted for breaching health and safety regulations.
The matter came before the Cardiff Crown Court on 18 October 2013. The company pleaded guilty to breaching s.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £100,074 towards the costs of the prosecution as a result.
Neither the company nor its criminal defence solicitors appear to have commented on the outcome of the case.
HSE Inspector Wayne Williams stated after the hearing: “Both men were put in considerable danger by the choice of the method of work employed by Wrexham Demolition. Both men sustained serious injuries as a result of being struck by the falling masonry and if it were not for their quick thinking, and large element of good fortune, this incident could quite easily have had fatal consequences.”
Chris Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Businesses in the United Kingdom have an obligation to comply with health and safety legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and can do so by taking reasonably practicable steps to ensure that the work their employees is undertaking is safe. The HSE clearly believed in this instance that the company had failed to do so.”
Redmans are employment law solicitors based in London