Wates Construction and concrete subcontractor MPB Structures have been fined a total of £100,000 over the collapse during the construction of an atrium for a new Art and Design Academy at the university.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that workers had been pumping concrete onto the third floor of the building for most of the day on September 19 2007 when the supporting scaffolding holding up the concrete suddenly collapsed.
The workers’ injuries included cement burns to their skin and eyes, and bone fractures.
An investigation found that the supporting scaffolding was erected from a preliminary design, clearly marked ‘for discussion and pricing purposes only’.
The drawing did not include all the information needed to erect the scaffolding correctly or safely. The contractors also failed to ensure the scaffolding was checked before allowing the concrete to be poured.
Both companies admitted safety breaches.
Wates was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £35,591 costs. MPB Structures Ltd, of Corby, Northamptonshire, was also fined £50,000 with costs of £35,362.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Susan Ritchie said: “This incident resulted in seven men falling roughly ten metres onto wet concrete which contained various bits of metal and wood.
“The companies should have made sure they had an appropriate design they could use to build from, and that the structure was inspected before the concrete was poured.
“Instead, more than 250 tonnes of concrete was poured onto scaffolding incapable of taking such loads and the inevitable happened – it collapsed. These basic errors could easily have resulted in several people losing their lives.
“This incident should act as a stark reminder that if you fail to plan and manage projects properly then there is a real potential for things to go seriously wrong.”
Dave Smith, Chief Operating Officer for Wates Group, said: “Safety is a core value at Wates and we remain committed to continuously improving our health and safety policies and procedures.
“We undertook our own internal investigation following this incident and have fully incorporated the findings and recommendations into our induction, training arrangements and policies.”