NI Law Society building collapse firms fined by HSENI

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Six workers were injured in the collapse
Image caption,
Six workers were injured in the collapse

Two construction companies have been fined over the collapse of a building owned by the Law Society in Belfast.

The building collapsed in March 2008, injuring six workers.

JH Turkington and Sons Ltd and Ripley Developments Ltd were fined a total of £61,000 for health and safety breaches.

A Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) investigation found that the collapse of a temporary supporting structure, known as falsework, caused the incident.

It was estimated that approximately 150 tonnes of concrete, 25 tonnes of steel reinforcing bars and four tonnes of falsework all came down in the collapse.

Judge Thomas Burgess described the building's collapse as an accident waiting to happen.

He said it was a miracle there were not more serious injuries - never mind fatalities.

J H Turkington and Sons Ltd, with headquarters in James Park, Portadown, was the principal contractor on the site in Victoria Street.

The company was fined £50,000 after pleading guilty to breaches of health and safety and construction legislation.

Ripley Developments Ltd, located at Drumnakilly Road, Omagh, acted as sub-contractor and was responsible for the erection of the cast in-situ concrete building.

It was fined £11,000 after pleading guilty to breaches of health and safety legislation.

After the case, Ken Logan, head of the HSENI's Construction Group, said the incident "could easily have resulted in a number of fatalities".

"The dangers of failing to manage falsework should be well known to the construction industry. Companies have a legal duty to ensure that falsework is properly designed and erected," he said.

"This includes ensuring that a competent temporary works co-ordinator is appointed and the process as set out in the British Standard BS 5975:2008 titled 'Code of practice for temporary works procedures …' is strictly adhered too.

"Had this system of work been followed, this incident could have been prevented."