Construction workers and members of the public were lucky to avoid serious personal injury or worse after two large buildings collapsed in Westminster.
A Buckinghamshire construction company and its managing director have now been fined for multiple safety failings following the incident on Fulham Road in January 2011.
The buildings were reduced to rubble and neighbouring properties sustained serious structural damage.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard Ethos Construction, was the principal contractor for a major project to renovate and refurbish a self-contained block of 14 buildings to create 56 new apartments and 13 commercial units.
The collapsed happened at the weekend meaning there was no work activity and nobody was on site.
The fallen rubble and debris took several days to clear and Fulham Road was partially closed for several weeks while neighbouring buildings, some of which were left in a ‘dangerous’ state, were checked and made safe.
A Prohibition Notice was put in place to stop the resumption of the renovation project until the site was declared as safe and stable.
Magistrates were told there was overwhelming evidence of dangerous working practices and poor planning and management, for which the principal contractor and director were ultimately responsible as duty holders.
Ethos Construction Solutions Limited, of High Street, Chesham, Bucks, was fined a total of £14,000 and ordered to pay a further £9,000 in costs
Managing Director Pritish Lad, 34, of The Avenue, Hatch End, Pinner, Middlesex, was fined a total of £9,500 with costs of £6,750.
Andrew Verrall-Withers, an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said: “The development site was a scene of complete devastation following the collapse and had anyone been working at the time there could have been multiple fatalities and serious injuries.
“It is also good fortune that the collapsed building didn’t come down in the direction of the busy Fulham Road, which could also have had tragic consequences.
“This prosecution should serve to remind directors of construction companies that it is unacceptable to simply assume workers in their care are protected because nobody has complained that standards are poor, or because they have experienced managers on the ground.”