Built to Last? Three Recent Fatalities Due to Collapsed Masonry


Recently we saw the death of a man on a construction site on the Isle of Dogs, London when a wall collapsed. Late Novemeber also saw the death of two furniture delivery men and 6 others injured in Knightsbridge when a balcony collapsed.

Whilst it is impossible to speculate on the exact causes of death right now, the deaths of these men demonstrate just how important Health and Safety planning is when used in various situations.

A Need For Proper Planning

The two delivery men who were killed when the railing on a balcony gave way in the prestigious Knightsbridge area of London. They were delivering sofas to a property that was being renovated when the railings collapsed. They were trying to pull a sofa up to the first floor apartment via the balcony using ropes. However, the fence broke off and fell on to the men below.

The pulley system that they had set up was tied to the railings, which weren't appropriate for taking that kind of weight, causing the tragedy. This has been confirmed by an engineer who has worked on other properties in the area. Sinclair Johnston told the BBC that:

"These sort of constructions are always very fragile and the iron railings can rust. The stone can become fragile and break up so you never really know how strong they are. It's something that engineers are very aware of."

The fact that Mr Johnston felt that other engineers would be aware of this issue is concerning. There were other workmen at the site, and nobody seems to have raised the issue, whereas it is a completely different story with the other fatality.

A Lack Of Action Taken?

The death of the construction worker when a wall collapsed on the site has raised some interesting questions. The site was actually a historic, but abandoned pub, called the Anchor & Hope.

The councillor for the area, Andrew Wood, of the Canary Wharf ward, had expressed some concerns about the safety of the site, but nothing was done about it. He is now going to ask the Health & Safety Executive to investigate why the pub wasn't made safe three months ago. Then, he described the area as "in a dangerous condition", and asked the council to make sure the building was safe.

The reasons for his concern relate to the fact that the site had broken windows and had been abandoned for some time. While it doesn't sound like much, broken windows mean that the inside of the building is exposed to the elements, when it wasn't designed to be. Moisture can get in and compromise the structure.

Expert Opinion - Proper Planning Needed

Personal Injury Solicitor Misty Cawley comments:

"These incidents reiterate the importance of health and safety planning on work sites. Work should be done by those competent to do the job safely and with attention being paid to the dangers such work entails, not only whilst the job is on-going but also to those using the building once it is complete. Incidents like these can often be avoided if appropriate plans are put in place and the relevant procedures are adhered to, to ensure everyone on site is as safe as possible.

Both of these unfortunate incidents reiterate how important health and safety planning and adherence can be, especially when the impact of not doing so can be fatal."

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