Designer Pleads GUILTY

May 08, 2015

A precast concrete company has pleaded GUILTY to failing to design a safe construction project and were fined €25,000 for failing to comply with Section 17 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. This is the FIRST successful prosecution of its kind in Ireland.

The precast company pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, to design the project so that it was capable of being constructed to be safe and without risk to health. The prosecution arose as a result of the collapse of a stairs during the construction of a school.

Two workmen who had been using the stairs heard a loud bang and saw the stairs collapsing. Nobody was injured when the collapse occurred. An expert giving evidence for the HSA told the court that critical reinforcement bars, which should have been at the junction of where the flight of stairs meets the landing, were missing.

The expert witness also said that once the stairs were cast and concrete put around the bars, the defect could not be seen. The drawings were prepared by one of the construction company's technicians. They should have been reviewed by an Engineer but instead were reviewed by a technician.   A contributing factor to the collapse was that the stairs were manufactured in two halves and there was a weakness going across the full width and depth of the stair case.

The company pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure, in so far as reasonably practicable, to design the project so that it was capable of being constructed to be safe and without risk to health (SHWW Act 2005, section 17.2. (a)).

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