A central London clothing company has been fined £10,000 following an incident in February 2007 in which part of its building collapsed.
Citytex UK Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and was ordered to pay costs of £35,000 and a compensation fee of £200 to four people who were in the building at the time of the collapse.
Citytex UK was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 25 September last year.
No one was injured in the accident off Aldgate in Tower Hamlets.
According to the Health and Safety Executive which brough the case, “Work was being carried out on a wall at first floor level at the front of the building. A large gap had been made in the brick work and chimney breasts had been removed.
“At approximately 4.30pm the front elevation collapsed, dropping large amounts of debris onto the pavement nearby. The scaffolding at the front of the property fell onto a lamppost preventing the bulk of the rubble landing on passers-by and on the road.
The road, which is a major thoroughfare, was closed for several days while rescuers searched the rubble for any victims.
“The court heard how debris was prevented from falling onto pedestrians by scaffolding which had also fallen during the collapse,” read a statement.
HSE Inspector, Sarah Snelling, said: “More than 20 people were in this building when it collapsed and it was sheer luck that no one was seriously injured or even killed in this incident
“Construction work must be planned and carried out by competent builders. If not, it can lead to a number of risks including collapse.
“If Citytex UK Ltd had complied with its legal duties by appointing a Planning Supervisor, and a competent Principal Contractor, then the risks would have been substantially reduced.”
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), plans for the work had been drawn up by architects and structural consultants, however, the company’s managing director had taken over as principal contractor to execute the work along with his teenage son.
It also emerged that there was no construction phase plan for the work to the first floor of the building on Commercial Road, Tower Hamlets.
HSE inspector, Sarah Snelling, said: “If Citytex UK Ltd had complied with its legal duties by appointing a planning supervisor, and a competent principal contractor, then the risks would have been substantially reduced.”