Six tonne school roof collapses on demolition workers

Grant Prior 7 years ago
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Thomas Vale and a demolition specialist have been prosecuted after the six-tonne roof of a timber-framed classroom collapsed on a worker.

Stafford Magistrates’ Court heard that CMR Demolitions Ltd and Thomas Vale failed to put in place temporary support arrangements during the demolition of the timber-framed classrooms at the former Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College site at Fenton.

The injured man was knocked unconscious when he was struck by part of the roof when the building collapsed without warning.

He suffered fractured ribs, a broken shoulder bone, a broken nose, several shattered teeth and swelling to his head.

Two other workers were caught under the collapsed building but managed to free themselves and were uninjured.

An HSE investigation into the incident on 11 November 2011 found the extensive soft-stripping of the walls by subcontractor CMR Demolitions Ltd had significantly reduced their load-bearing capacity.

A combination of having no support in place to hold up the roof, and strong winds, resulted in the collapse.

CMR Demolitions Ltd did not obtain information on how the timber-framed classrooms had been originally constructed and did not seek the opinion of a structural engineer during the work.

The building had been left in a stripped state overnight but no check was made on the structure before workers entered it the next day.

Rotting timbers within the base of the timber frame were not spotted and addressed. The classroom could have been mechanically pushed over without putting any staff at risk.

Principal contractor Thomas Vale failed to ensure that CMR Demolitions Ltd had provided a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the soft strip and demolition work of the classroom.

It also failed to manage and monitor this demolition activity of CMR Demolitions Ltd or ensure they had consulted a structural expert.

CMR Demolitions Ltd was fined a total of £9,900 and ordered to pay £6,117 in costs after pleading guilty to safety breaches.

Thomas Vale also pleaded guilty to and was fined £6,600 with £6,117 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Bowker said: “CMR Demolitions Ltd made serious errors and the collapse occurred through a lack of planning and understanding of the structural stability of the classrooms.

“The company allowed their staff to work in extremely dangerous conditions. Had they employed a structural engineer this incident could have been avoided.

“As a result of these failures, a worker was seriously injured. The implications of a six-tonne, timber-framed roof collapsing onto people are obvious to all and this incident could easily have resulted in multiple fatalities.”

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