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Sun November 01 2020

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Architect and contractor pay out £320,000 for death fall

2 Aug 10 An architect and a construction company have been prosecuted following a fatality on a Somerset building site.

An architect and a construction company have been prosecuted following a fatality on a Somerset building site.

Express Park Construction Company (EPCC), of Harley Street, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for failing to safely manage subcontractors working for it.

The architects involved, Oxford Architects Partnership, of Hinksey Hill, Oxford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 13, and 14, of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994, which require designers to take safety considerations into account.

EPCC was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £68,000 and Oxford Architects Partnership was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £60,000 at Bristol Crown Court today.

The court heard that on 26 January 2005 David Cairns, 64, was working for EPCC sub-contractors H&F Air Conditioning, at the newly-built 'Exchange' building at Express Park in Bridgwater, Somerset.

Cairns was working on the air conditioning plant, which was built on a platform accessed via a ladder at the edge of a flat roof. The roof only had a low parapet, which was not high enough to prevent Mr Cairns falling nine metres to the ground.

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Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sue Adsett, said: "This is a tragic case where both the failings of the construction firm and the architects led to Cairns' death.

"While it is rare for designers to be charged with breaching health and safety legislation, they must be aware they can be held responsible where bad design is an important contributory factor to a work-place fatality.

"Designers must ensure that plant and equipment can be accessed safely, and that safety harnesses are only used as a last resort.

"HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against any company or individual who fails to carry out their health and safety duties, especially when that failure results in a tragedy, as in this case."

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