Electrician killed by falling concrete beams

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Two associate companies have been fined after the death of a worker in London, killed when concrete joists fell on him.

Electrician John Walker, who worked for 777 Environmental Limited, met his death while working on a demolition site on Walworth Road, Elephant and Castle, where the Strata Building now sits.

He was working on an area of the site near to a couple of remote controlled demolition machines in August 2007. The machines in breaking through a structural beam dislodged several concrete joists which struck the worker and he died at the scene.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted after it found the principal contractor, 777 Demolition and Haulage Co Ltd, and subcontractor, and also sister firm, 777 Environmental, failed to properly plan, manage and monitor the demolition of the structure.

Southwark Crown Court was told the companies failed to prepare or implement an effective and safe system of work for the demolition, which ultimately allowed for an uncontrolled collapse to take place.

HSE explained that as the principal contractor, it was the duty of 777 Demolition and Haulage Co. Limited to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of those not in its employ but affected by its work on site.

777 Environmental Limited was the subcontractor and employer of Mr Walker, and was brought in to undertake the demolition of the building. Its failure to properly investigate the nature of the structure as demolition proceeded led to the uncontrolled collapse. By not having implemented robust exclusion zones this sadly allowed a wholly foreseeable risk to have fatal consequences. It admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, at an earlier hearing and was fined £90,000.

777 Demolition and Haulage Co. Limited of Beddington Lane, Croydon, Surrey denied the charges but was found guilty, after a trial, of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and fined £125,000.

Costs of £167, 857 were awarded to HSE.

After the sentencing, HSE Principal Inspector Dominic Elliss said: “This was a tragic incident by any standards, and robbed a family, friends and colleagues of John Walker.

“I hope this case sparks renewed focus by all in the construction industry on the importance of effective planning, constant review and robust supervision throughout demolition works.

“There are clear responsibilities laid down in law for all dutyholders undertaking construction works. It is vital that they all play their role effectively to manage risk and prevent entirely avoidable loss of life at work.”