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Personal injury for workers after two tonne brick archway collapses

August 2 2013

Two joiners suffered serious personal injury after a brick archway weighing two tonnes collapsed on top of them during a major refurbishment project.

The two men were shoring up the arch after it become unstable due to the removal of some masonry on one of the support pillars.

One fractured a foot and the other injured his back in the incident at a former toffee factory in Ouseburn, Newcastle.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Brims Construction Ltd, the principal contractor for the project, and designers Cundall Johnston and Partners LLP after an investigation into the collapse identified safety failings.

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.

They devised a plan of work, but it was not reviewed by Brims to check that it was a safe method of working.

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 also failed to plan and manage the work to deal with the unstable archway safely.

Brims Construction Ltd, of Austin Boulevard, Quay West Business Park, Sunderland, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

Cundall Johnston and Partners LLP, of Horsley House, Regent Centre, Gosforth, Newcastle, was fined £1,000 with costs of £7,000.

Speaking after the case HSE Inspector Keith Partington said: “This incident could have easily been avoided.”

During 2011/12, 49 2,884 major injuries were reported in the construction industry. If you have suffered an injury at work call PM Law solicitors in Sheffield on 0114 296 5444