An exclusive Shropshire boarding school has been fined £25,000 after a construction worker was killed during the demolition of a building on the site.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Moor Park Charitable Trust, which runs the £15,000-a-year Moor Park School, after it arranged for a team of inexperienced building workers to demolish a wooden classroom on 14 August 2007.
The HSE investigation revealed the workers had no effective plan in place and removed integral supports within the classroom’s structure, causing the roof to collapse while five men were inside.
Mark Evans, 40, of Ludlow, suffocated when the 2.4-tonne roof fell on top of him.
The four other men survived without serious injury thanks to the chance positioning of a dumper which was parked inside part of the building, creating an escape route.
Evans leaves behind his wife and teenage daughter who are devastated by their loss.
Shrewsbury Crown Court heard that Moor Park School had arranged for a self-employed general building worker, Christopher Morris, who was undertaking some minor roofing work on the site, to carry out the work.
He asked four other self-employed building workers to assist in the demolition even though none of them had training or relevant experience. The school failed to make any reasonable enquiries into the competence of the men to undertake the demolition work prior to the work beginning.
HSE inspector Nic Rigby said: “There were five men inside this building when it collapsed. Evans paid the ultimate price for the school’s failings. But for sheer good fortune, all five of them could have been killed.
“But Evans and the other workers should not have been put at such increased risk. Had Moor Park School taken reasonable steps to properly consider the demolition work, they would have appointed a competent and experienced contractor, and avoided the roof collapse.
“This awful event and the prosecution of the school must send a very clear message to all those who commission construction or demolition work. It must be properly planned and carried out by those with the experience and competence to do so.”
Moor Park School of Moor Park in Ludlow pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. As well as the fine, it was also ordered to pay £15,000 in costs.