Metal Beam Falls onto Street

Safety is an important consideration in any workplace, across all industries however there are differences between safety in other sectors (such as for example manufacturing or mining), and safety in the construction sector.

The biggest difference is that the hazards presented by construction work sometimes are not limited to the workers only, members of the public are often placed at risk because of dangers associated with construction.

One example of the public being placed in harms’ way happened on a London street recently when a metal beam fell onto the busy road from the sixth floor of a building under construction.

The principal contractor and frame firm was fined over the risk to the public as well because of an injury.

The company, McClaren Construction Ltd and John Doyle Construction Ltd (a company now in liquidation) have been prosecuted after a 6m metal beam fell from the sixth floor of a building. The metal beam struck and injured a worker on a third floor scaffold before crashing onto a busy street in the City of London.

The incident which happened in 2011, occurred during construction of a seven-storey hotel. The 32kg beam hit a 38-year-old building worker while he was on an access platform.

The worker fractured his ribs and vertebrae leaving him in hospital for a week and unable to work for two months.

The accident apparently happened when workers were dismantling the temporary structural framework on the sixth floor of the building when they lost control of the beam.

A workman was struck while he was working on a platform below before the beam fell to the busy public road below, narrowly missing members of the public walking and driving passed.

In this case the contractor failed to identify and implement reasonable control measures that should have been in place to prevent any beam from falling in that way.

The Principal contractor was also held responsible for failing to ensure that the contractor’s work method statement was adequate and did not identify beforehand that the controls implement were insufficient.

Both the contractor and principal contractor failed to make sure that there was no one below the areas where the framework structure was being dismantled, placing everyone on the ground below at risk.

Health and Safety Executive Inspector Eileen Gascoigne summed up the case and explained:

“What happened at the building site that day had the potential to kill one or more workers and members of the public passing close by. It was entirely good fortune that the consequences were not even graver.


The incident was entirely preventable. The risks were foreseeable and the measures that needed to be in place are well-known in the industry and were readily implemented afterwards.


As an experienced principal contractor, McClaren failed to properly check the controls that John Doyle proposed for the work, and failed to implement their own procedures for ensuring there was no risk to either other contractors, or members of the public, from the work taking place.


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