Nine Elms partner heavily fined for 'superficial' safety inspection after worker fall

Wandsworth Guardian: St George Wharf St George Wharf

A key partner in the multi-billion pound Nine Elms development has been heavily fined after a construction worker was nearly killed when a temporary platform collapsed four years ago.

St George was fined after Noel Doyle, 32, from Hammersmith, suffered life-changing injuries when he fell 10m down a shaft before landing on a concrete staircase at the St George Wharf Tower, in Vauxhall, on February 10, 2009.

After the construction firm pleaded guilty to a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 at Southwark Crown Court, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated.

The investigation found Mr Doyle, and two colleagues including a foreman, were helping to raise a temporary work platform inside a concrete shaft within a building under construction.

The platform was lifted from one floor to another by a crane when the crane operator was instructed by the foreman to take the chains away while one was still attached.

The platform disintegrated, causing Mr Doyle to fall into the shaft with heavy masonry and equipment raining down on top of him.

He suffered breaks to his ribs, pelvis, elbow and a vertebrae as well as badly damaging internal organs - as a result of his terrible injuries, Mr Doyle is no longer able to work in the construction.

St George, the principal contractor for construction work at the site, was fined after the investigation by the HSE identified a number of failings.

It concluded St George failed to properly plan and manage the construction work so as to avoid risks to safety.

The company also failed to ensure their subcontractors had developed and implemented safe systems of work, particularly in relation to the management and use of temporary works.

Loraine Charles, the HSE inspector, branded the St George inspection process as "superficial".

She said: "In this case, St George concerned themselves more with the existence than the content of the subcontractor safety documents, and although they themselves carried out regular site safety inspections, all of these were superficial and failed to identify significant systemic failures."

St George was fined £50,000, plus £27,386 in costs while J Reddington Ltd, the subcontractor, was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay £22,193 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

A spokesperson for St George said: “We regret that Mr Doyle was injured at St George Wharf in a most unfortunate incident five years ago. St George has consequently implemented further safety procedures following a thorough investigation and internal review.”
 

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