Companies fined over collapsed Kirkham office

Michael Hunt

Two companies have been fined a total of £7,000 after part of an office block being built collapsed and seriously injured one worker in Kirkham, Lancashire.

The Health & Safety Executive prosecuted the building's designer, Peter Wallace of the Wallace Partnership, and the principal contractor, Jack Smith Builders, following the collapse at Kirkham Crossroads on Freckleton Street.

Blackpool Magistrates' Court heard that emergency services, including Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service's major incident unit, were called to the scene on 14 October 2008.

The Health & Safety Executive investigation found that a concrete block pillar, used to support the first and second floors, had been resting on the ground floor instead of going down into the foundations.

Allen Shute, the investigating Health & Safety Executive inspector in Lancashire, said: "One of the workers' legs was badly broken after the rubble fell on him, but the consequences could have been much worse. This was a basic error which should have been spotted by both the building's designer and the principal contractor.

"It is common sense that the pillar supporting the floors should have gone into the foundations, and not just rested on the floor below. It's vital companies learn lessons from this to prevent similar incidents happening in the future."

Wallace, from the Wallace Partnership located on Pope Lane in Preston, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Jack Smith Builders, of Cottam Lane in Ashton, Preston, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Both charges related to the safety of workers being put at risk. Wallace was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £12,318 towards the cost of the prosecution at Blackpool Magistrates' Court on Wednesday 12 May. Jack Smith Builders was fined £3,000 with costs of £12,318.

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