Three further arrests were made this week following the collapse of a Polish exhibition centre in January. Six people are now being held in relation to the disaster.
Two designers are understood to have been charged with 'wilfully causing the collapse' and the designer's verifier has been charged with 'involuntarily causing the collapse' that killed 65 and injured 140 in January this year (NCE 2 Feb).The engineers could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty. They join three employees of building owner MTK, who were arrested in February.At the time of the collapse heavy snow was reported to have overloaded the building's lightweight steel framed roof with some 300mm of snow and 10cm of ice. The snow was not cleared by the building's owner MTK despite the known danger. The three MTK employees responsible for maintenance were arrested and charged with criminal negligence.In May a report into the cause of the collapse by the Polish Government is understood to have blamed the disaster on massive overloading of the structure exacerbated by inadequate repairs.NCE understands that the building was copied from a Spanish design and not designed for snow loads.An engineer experienced in Poland's building regulations told NCE that snow loads do not have to be part of the design of Polish structures.'Under Polish building regulations you can either design for snow loads or you can make a provision for maintenance - usually you design for snow.'ICE Poland representative Richard Burleigh explained the legal position of those involved in the design and construction of buildings that collapse in Poland.'Three groups of people can be prosecuted in the event of a collapse. First is the designer and the verifier who checked the work of the designer.''Second is the contractor appointed site manager, who is responsible for checking the design and ensuring construction meets design requirements.''And third is the building inspector appointed jointly by the client and contractor who ensures legal obligations are upheld.'Before a building can be occupied it must be granted an occupancy certificate which requires the approval of the local building regulations department.The building was twice closed down in 2000 and 2002, after snow loading caused buckling of the roof. According to local media these repairs were not checked by the local building department and for this and flaws in the original design, the two designers and the verifier were arrested this week.Jon YoungRelated links:Today's top stories