Firm fined after fallen girder crashed through building
A steel firm has been fined £15,000 after a 4m-long metal girder fell from a crane and crashed through an estate agents' roof, close to two employees.
Pocklington Steel Structures Ltd admitted breaching the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act by putting the lives of workers and the public at risk.
Preston magistrates also ordered the company to pay £6,706 costs.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the workers at Garside Waddingham, in Preston, had had a lucky escape.
The court heard that the 80kg (176.4lb) girder fell about 25m (82ft) from the crane and smashed through the roof and three floors of the building in Fleet Street on 16 January.
It was one of 18 similar steel beams to be lifted by the crane that morning on a construction site for a new hotel on nearby Fox Street.
These girders were lifted at a 45-degree angle to fit into the new hotel structure, but the HSE found that nothing was done to stop the girders slipping through the chains wrapped around them.
It added that Pocklington Steel Ltd, of Lancaster Road, Carnaby, East Yorkshire, should have attached shackles in holes drilled through them, as they were being lifted near to the public and other buildings.
HSE investigator Anthony Polec said: "It must have been terrifying for the staff on duty in the estate agents that day when they suddenly heard and then saw a steel girder crashing down next to their desks, right where the public normally stand.
"It was only by chance that the incident happened on a Saturday when fewer staff were at work, and that no members of the public were in the building at the time.
"Two office workers had a lucky escape but several people could easily have been killed."