Firm Fined After Building Collapsed

Breach of health and safety


Magistrates have fined a London clothing importer £10,000 after part of its building collapsed with more than 20 people inside.

Citytex UK Ltd, based in Tower Hamlets, admitted breaching two sections of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on September 25, 2009, in the case heard at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

It was ordered to pay £35,000 costs and £200 each to four people who were in the building on Commercial Road when it collapsed. Nobody was killed or injured.

During work in 2007, the front elevation collapsed, dropping large amounts of debris onto the pavement. The scaffolding at the front of the property fell onto a lamppost, preventing most of the rubble landing on passers-by and on the road.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that plans for the work were drawn up by architects and structural consultants. Citytex's Managing Director acted as the principal contractor and was assisted by his teenage son.

There was no construction phase plan and the architect was unaware of any work on the first floor. The HSE was not told any improvement work was being done.

HSE inspector, Sarah Snelling, said: "If Citytex UK Ltd had complied with its legal duties by appointing a Planning Supervisor, and a competent Principal Contractor, the risks would have been substantially reduced."

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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “This was a very serious work accident which could easily have resulted in serious injuries or fatalities.

“This industrial accident demonstrates the need for building work to be properly planned, supervised and carried out.

“The construction industry is the industrial sector where a worker is most likely to be killed following an accident at work.  As such, it is crucial that employers make every effort to provide employees with a safe place and a safe system of work so as to avoid injury or death caused by a work accident.”