Housebuilder fined after wall collapse seriously injures child

An eight-year-old child was left with serious injuries after a substantial part of a wall collapsed at a construction site.

Housebuilder Gurmit Properties has been fined for safety breaches in relation to the incident, which took place in Wakefield.

On 7 February 2018, the child was walking with her mother along Harrow Street, adjacent to the housebuilder’s construction site, when she was hit by the collapsing wall. She sustained serious harm, including crush injuries to her foot that resulted in the amputation of a big toe.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that Gurmit Properties was the owner of the site at Barnsley Road, South Elmsall. The company had previously received a large delivery of aggregate, which was deposited on land next to the construction site. Officials from the local council attended the site and ordered the materials to be removed. The firm then brought the materials onto its site, storing them behind the wall.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Gurmit Properties had not assessed the structural integrity of the wall to ensure it was safe to be used as either a secure boundary for the site or as a retaining wall for storing materials. When the materials were stored against the wall, it failed, and this led directly to the collapse and injuries to the child.

Gurmit Properties pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £22,500 and ordered to pay £11,998.80 in costs.

HSE inspector Chris Tilley commented: “The company should have appointed a competent person to carry out an assessment of the wall at the start of the project to establish whether it was safe to use as a boundary wall, and then carried out a similar assessment when the wall was then used as a retaining wall for storing materials.

“This incident could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and adopting safe working practices.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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