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Steel beam crashed through roof of office building
Two estate agents had a lucky escape when a four-metre-long metal girder fell from a crane and crashed though the roof of their office.
The steel beam fell 25 metres from the crane and smashed through three floors of Garside Waddingham estate agents in Fleet Street, Preston. The 80kg girder was one of 18 similar beams being lifted by Pocklington Steel Structures Ltd during the construction of a new hotel in an adjacent street.
The HSE’s investigation discovered that nothing had been done to stop the girders slipping through the chains that were wrapped around them, and, as a result, one of them fell and landed only feet away from two office workers.
An HSE inspector revealed that the girder would not have slipped out of the chains if shackles had been attached to holes that were drilled in the beams. He said: “It must have been terrifying for the staff on duty in the estate agents that day when they suddenly heard and then saw a steel girder crashing down next to their desks, right where the public normally stand.
“It was only by chance that the incident happened on a Saturday when fewer staff were at work, and that no members of the public were in the building at the time. For such a high lift, near to people on the ground, it is simply not good enough to wrap chains around girders, in a so-called choke hitch, without securing them.”
Pocklington Steel Structures appeared at Preston Magistrates’ Court on 29 October and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £6706 towards costs.
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She also fined Morris & Spottiswood, which specialises in commercial fitouts and house building and refurbishment, £20,000 after it admitted three charges under the Control of Asbestos Regulations.