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Mon June 27 2022

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Material stockpile caused wall to collapse onto passing child

13 Apr A Yorkshire building company has been ordered to pay more than £30,000 after part of a wall collapsed on one of its sites, hospitalising an eight-year-old girl.

Gurmit Properties Limited was fined today for safety breaches at a construction site at Barnsley Road, South Elmsall in Wakefield in 2018.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that, Gurmit Properties Limited (GPL) owned the site and had previously taken delivery of aggregate, which was deposited on land next to the construction site.

When council officials told GPL it had to move the materials, GPL brought the aggregate back on to the site, storing them behind the wall.

On 7th February 2018 an eight-year old girl was walking with her mother along Harrow Street, alongside GPL’s construction site, when she was hit by the collapsing wall. She sustained serious injuries, including crush injuries to her foot, which resulted in the amputation of a big toe.

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An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that GPL had not assessed the structural integrity of the wall to ensure it was safe to be used as either a secure boundary for the site or as a retaining wall for storing materials. When the materials were stored against the wall it failed and this led directly to the collapse and the injuries to the child.

Gurmit Properties Ltd of Albion Street, Castleford, was both client and contractor within the terms of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. It pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £22,500 and ordered to pay £11,998.80 in costs.

HSE inspector Chris Tilley said after the hearing: “The company should have appointed a competent person to carry out an assessment of the wall at the start of the project to establish whether it was safe to use as a boundary wall and then carried out a similar assessment when the wall was then used as a retaining wall for storing materials. This incident could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and adopting safe working practices.”

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