Droitwich construction company fined £100,000 after workers seriously injured

A DROITWICH construction company has been fined £100,000 after five workers were seriously injured.

Neglected safety measures by Spa-based firm Adstone Construction Ltd led to a 40 tonne canopy collapsing at the Abraham Darby Academy in Telford, Shropshire, two years ago.

Five roofers plunged over 40ft in what the health and safety executive described as "a terror ride" when the heavy steel canopy buckled and collapsed.

All five men, from the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire areas, suffered various injuries including broken bones and cuts and bruising.

One of the victims was airlifted to hospital following the incident at the school in August 2011.

An extensive health and safety investigation revealed that key sections of the 180ft steel framework supporting the canopy had been insufficiently welded together.

The company was fined after admitting failing to ensure that persons not in its employment were not exposed to risks.

At Shrewsbury Crown Court on Thursday, December 12, Judge Simon Tonking fined the firm £100,000 and said the potential for greater harm had been considerable.

"It was sheer good luck that no one was underneath the canopy at the time, as there had been earlier, with people working and coming and going from the building. The consequences would have been truly disastrous," he said.

The court heard that welders at the company, which supplies fabricated structural steelwork, had relied on 'chalk marks' to construct the steel framework and had not used the design drawings and the quality of their work had not been properly inspected.

Judge Tonking said the company, of Wassage Way, Hampton Lovett Industrial Estate, had also to pay £106,000 towards the overall costs of the health and safety executive prosecution of more than £190,000.

Three of the company's directors, Julia Young, managing director, Ian Young, commercial director, and finance director Gary Howson, were in court for the hearing.

Mrs Rhona Campbell, prosecuting, said work on the roof started in August 2011 and the injured men, who worked for Rooflex Roofing Services of Mansfield, were fitting waterproofing when the accident happened.

The court heard that on August 25 the triangle-shaped canopy roof had tilted and rotated as the critical welds failed. It then buckled and collapsed taking the roofers with it and damaging the front of the school building.

A large vertical steel support column for the canopy - known as a skylon - also collapsed as a direct result of the canopy failure.

One of the workers, Philip Drury, 29, from Mansfield, who was air-lifted to hospital on a spinal board and with a neck brace, had suffered vertebrae and shoulder injuries.

His father, 54-year-old Philip Drury Sr, also from Mansfield, fractured an ankle and had three cracked ribs and internal bruising, head injuries and cuts to his face and head.

His nephew, 32-year-old Mark Drury-Tuck, of Ripley, Derbyshire, suffered rib injuries and was kept in hospital overnight.

Joshua Wolak, 24, of Edwinstowe, had multiple cuts and bruises and a suspected fractured rib, and James Buchanan, 32, also from Edwinstowe, suffered arm injuries and bruising to his neck.

At court Mr Toby Riley-Smith, for Adstone Construction, said the directors offered unreserved apologies to those who were injured and had shown deep remorse and it was a slip from the 35-year-old company's safety record.

"The directors express regret and shame that they find themselves in court and have taken steps to ensure this sort incident does not happen again," he said.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Andrew Bowker said the incident had had enormous potential for loss of life.

"The canopy collapsed suddenly and violently without warning taking the roofers down 40ft on what can only be described as a terror ride.

It is a miracle that they were not more seriously injured or even killed," said Mr Bowker.

"It is vital that companies carrying out this type of work have suitable and sufficient quality control measures in place," he added.

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