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Company fined after fatal accident at Imperial War Museum

One of UK's largest steel erection companies was last week fined £75,000 following an incident at when two workers fell from height, killing one of them, whilst working at the Imperial War Museum.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecution followed the accident which occurred on 2 April 1998 during the construction of an extension to the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth Road.

Brian Knights from Norwich – a steel erector employed by William Hare Limited – fell from the steelwork of the new extension to the ground outside the structure and was killed. Richard Bartram, another steel erector, also fell in the same incident but landed on the decked-out floor below and escaped serious injury.

Knights and Bartram had been standing on a wooden staging board that was resting on two horizontal steel beams, at a height of 13 metres above the ground. They were retrieving a ladder that was footed on the staging board, and giving access to the top of a column, where steel channels had been bolted into position a few days earlier. The board became unbalanced and tipped both men off.

William Hare Limited pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act at the City of London Magistrates Court on Wednesday 12 March. Last week the company was fined a total of 75,000 and ordered to pay 9,162.80 at the Old Bailey.

HSE Inspector Alec Ferguson said: "The method statement for the scaffolding work being undertaken at the Imperial War Museum was not sufficiently detailed to cover the erection of the steel channels, which led to an improvised system being developed on site.

"This dreadful accident has highlighted the need for the most detailed planning and preparation for all high-risk activities such as steel erection. This accident could have been avoided if the company had specified a safe system of work undertaken with suitable supervision."

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