Brick Arch Collapse Injures Builders
A Designer and a Contractor have both been fined after admitting to safety breaches that caused a two-tonne brick archway to collapse, injuring two builders. The incident occurred during a large-scale refurbishment project at a former factory in Newcastle.
Part of the refurbishment work required removing an area of masonry from a support pillar. This caused a nearby brick arch to lose stability as the support pillar, from which the masonry had been removed, had been acting as a buttress. In addition, the brick pillars that adjoined the archway had become weak due to pockets that had been created within the masonry to hold steel beams.
When the instability of the arch became apparent, the issue was raised with the site foreman for the Principal Contractor on the project. The foreman instructed the joiners to shore up the arch but failed to review the plan of work which the joiners devised, leading to the arch collapsing as they worked on it. Both joiners had a relatively lucky escape from the potentially lethal accident; one of the pair injured his back while the other suffered a fractured foot.
Prosecuting, HSE inspectors concluded that the Principal Contractor had failed to properly plan and manage the necessary remedial work to strengthen the brick archway. For this safety failing the Sunderland-based company was fined £1,000 and also ordered to pay £5,000 in costs. The Design Engineers, an international company with a UK office based in Newcastle, also pleading guilty to safety breaches and were fined £1,000 plus £7,000 costs for failing to provide sufficient design information to ensure the safety of employees dealing with the unstable archway.
This incident makes it clear how dangerous structural defects can be. When attempting any work of this nature, it is essential to ensure that it is planned in detail from start to finish, being checked at every stage for accuracy.
Twistfix publishes a BRE report and load tables for reinforcing brick arches using helical bars embedded in high strength grout. Had the Engineers and the Principal Contractors researched modern methods of masonry arch reinforcement then this accident may have been avoided. Twistfix supply high-quality products, which have an impressive reputation and track record in strengthening dilapidated masonry walls
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