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Builders fined for Cheshire mansion bodge

22 Apr 14 Two building contractors were ordered to pay a total of £72,000 in fines and costs last week after three workers were injured when a floor collapsed during the construction of a mansion in Cheshire.

The concrete floor beams came down when the core steel frame fell
The concrete floor beams came down when the core steel frame fell

One of the men was struck by a falling concrete beam and has been unable to return to work following the incident on 11th November 2011.

Belmont Homes (Cheshire) Ltd and Sale-based Waymac Ltd were both prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that work at the site had been badly planned, putting multiple lives in danger.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that property-developer Belmont had brought in several contractors, including bricklaying firm Waymac, to help with the construction of the four-storey, six-bedroom property, valued at £2m, on South Downs Road in Bowdon.

During the project, the firms discovered that the steel frame for the first floor was too high and needed to be lowered. This meant reducing the height of some of the concrete padstones, upon which the frame rested, by lifting the frame and then lowering it back down.

The concrete beams for the floor were then put in place but the steelwork gave way and collapsed. Three of the men fell with it, with the beams falling on top of them.

Two workers escaped with minor injuries but one suffered severe injuries when he put up his left arm to protect his head from a 500kg concrete beam. The 47-year-old from Wythenshawe sustained a crushed arm, fractured ribs, punctured lung, broken collar bone and damage to his back. He has lost the use of his left hand and only has very limited use of his left arm.

The HSE investigation found that the work to lower the steel frame had been badly planned, and neither company had considered the potential risk of collapse while the structure was in a temporarily weakened state.

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Belmont Homes (Cheshire) Ltd, of Budworth Heath in Cheshire, was fined £33,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of workers.

Waymac Ltd, of Eastway in Sale, was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 by failing to ensure the structure did not collapse as a result of its work.

HSE principal inspector Neil Jamieson said after the hearing: “One of the workers has suffered devastating injuries as a result of the collapse, and the other two were lucky not to have been more seriously injured or even killed.

“Belmont was responsible for the overall management of the work and the company failed to get a grip of the project. Waymac is also an experienced bricklaying firm and it should have been obvious to both companies that lifting and lowering the floor could be dangerous.

“They should have sought the advice of a structural engineer before allowing the work to go ahead. If they had then the injuries the workers suffered could have been avoided.”

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