Construction company C Smith and Sons had been contracted to demolish the structure, which had housed Harvey’s and Carpetright retail stores. According to a statement released by Greater Manchester Police, the building was due to be remotely demolished with construction plant as this posed the least risk to the workers. However, between winning the contract and work starting onsite, the company’s owner Michael Smith decided the structure should instead be dismantled piece by piece.
C Smith subcontracted Building and Dismantling Contractors (BDC) to disassemble the roof and its workers had to work at height to remove the roof sheets before unbolting the structure. The roof of the building was made up of steel corrugated sheets with plastic skylights. The skylights had deteriorated and were covered with corrugated steel sheets.
On the morning of the incident a 47-year-old BDC employee fell through one of the skylights onto the concrete floor nine metres below. He sustained fractures to his spine, pelvis, right leg, heel and wrist. At about 4pm the same day, 42-year-old Scott Harrower, another BDC worker, fell through a skylight and sustained fatal head injuries.
The day before the accident Harrower suffered a near-miss when he accidentally stepped through one of the skylights but managed to stop himself from falling.
The companies appeared at Manchester Crown Court, where BDC was found guilty of offences under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and for breaching regulations 4 and 7 of the Work at Height Regulations, which require employers to properly plan and supervise work at height and ensure it is carried out in a safe manner. The company’s owner, Allan Thomson, has been jailed for six years, fined £400,000 and ordered to pay £55,000 court costs.
C Smith and Sons was found guilty of offences under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and for breaching both the CDM (Construction Design and Management) and Work at Height regulations. Michael Smith has been jailed for eight months, fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £45,000 court costs.
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