Two men injured at work when archway collapses

Two men were injured at work when a brick archway weighing two tonnes collapsed on them during a major refurbishment project

Both men are joiners, and they were shoring up the arch after it became unstable during the removal of some masonry on one of the support pillars.

One man suffered a fractured foot and the other sustained back injuries as a result of this accident at work at a former toffee factory in Ouseburn, Newcastle in February 2011.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted two firms, Brims Construction Ltd, the principal contractor for the project, and the designers Cundall Johnston and Partners LLP following an investigation into the accident at work.

The brick pillars adjoining the archway had been weakened after ‘pockets’ were created in the masonry for steel beams to be installed.

The pillar was acting as a buttress, therefore the removal of masonry caused the archway to become unstable.

This was brought to the attention of Brim’s 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.

The arch collapsed whilst work was underway.

The HSE found that Cundall Johnston and Partners LLP had not provided information in its designs to ensure that those carrying out work would have known that masonry removal from brick pillars would cause the archway to become unstable.

It also found that Brims Construction Ltd failed to plan and manage the work to deal with the unstable archway in a safe manner.

Vicki Wright, expert personal injury solicitor at Swain & Co says, “This accident at work could have been avoided if the designers had provided sufficient information in the drawings to alert those carrying out work to potential dangers, and Brims had properly managed and planned the work.”

“It is fortunate that the injuries were not more serious, as two tonnes of brickwork falling on two men could have had a devastating impact.”

Vicki continues by saying, “The risks of construction site accidents occurring are well documented and there is no excuse for firms failing in their duty to protect workers.”