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Conder fined over column collapse

A CROWN Court judge this week fined steelwork designer Conder Structures £100,000 for a column collapse which killed a 16 year old worker. It must also pay nearly £60,000 in costs.

At Leicester Crown Court, Conder pleaded guilty to charges of failing to ensure the safety of non-employees and of failing to provide adequate design information to steelwork subcontractors.

The collapse occurred on 28 November 2000 during erection of two 17m high steel columns for Project Arrow at Magna Park in Leicestershire.

Site worker Christopher Kesterton was killed as one of the 2t steel columns toppled on to him. Supervisor Lee Neal narrowly escaped.

Main cause of the collapse was an inability to fit stabilising wedges between base plates and a concrete foundation, leaving them free standing and increasing forces on hold-down bolts.

Design had allowed only for a wind speed of 25mph. But a 'relatively moderate' 30mph wind was enough to cause swaying and bolt failure.

HSE inspector Mark Hatfield said the accident was caused because 'a subcontractor was not informed by the designer of the maximum wind speed in which columns could be erected freestanding'.

Conder also failed to inform the subcontractor about the number and arrangement of wedges required, or the importance of the base wedging.

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