Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay over £71,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a charge under HSW Act Section 3.
The case arose from an incident in March 2004 that led to the death of supervisor Mr John Walsh, 53, of Bristol who died after a wall collapsed causing him to fall from a ladder.
Mr Walsh was employed by Ferson Construction Services Ltd to build a block work supporting wall that included a cavity between the wall and the concrete frame of the main structure. He was filling the cavity with cement when the ‘wall surged outwards due to the pressure’ causing him to fall backwards from the ladder.
HSE inspector Alun Williams said ‘there are recognised procedures in the construction industry for backfilling and cavity insulation which would have prevented the wall from surging outwards. He went on to say’use of ladders was meant to be strictly controlled on site yet one was in use despite a method statement to the contrary. The company failed to ensure the method statement was followed and in doing so failed to manage the activities of others.’
Judge Bidder said the fact the supervisor lacked qualifications of experience to appreciate the risk was “a very substantial failing”.
The judge added: “No-one seriously disputes it was an unsafe construction and Ferson must share blame for that construction.”
He said both companies were aware of the danger of the wall “blowing” or being forced out by the pressure of liquid concrete being placed in the cavity.
He added the impact on Mr. Walsh’s family “can hardly be imagined”.
Judge Bidder said a “substantial penalty” was necessary to “bring home the need for ever present vigilance” and to “deter other companies from relaxing the highest level of safety”.
He also ordered Taylor Woodrow to pay £71,400 costs.
After the hearing, Mr. Walsh’s widow, Susan, said the family was pleased the prosecution had now reached a conclusion.
She said: “It is almost five years since my husband died and we are satisfied that the failures of the health and safety procedures at the Welsh assembly building construction site have been admitted.
“This has been a very difficult time for us all.”