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Carpet firm fined after worker crushed by wall

A carpet firm from Littleborough has landed in court after one of its workers sustained severe injuries after a concrete wall collapsed onto him.

What happened?

West Pennine Carpets Ltd had hired a contractor to build two walls using concrete blocks. The company relied on verbal assurances from the builder that the walls would be strong enough to withstand the force from the carpets stored between them.

Two weeks later one of the firm’s employees, Arron Ridings, reported that one of the walls was leaning by several inches. The company’s director asked workers to remove around half the carpets stacked against the wall but no further action was taken.

A few weeks later, around 375 square metres of carpet rolls were delivered to the firm’s headquarters and were stored between the walls, filling the gap. Workers were helping to load empty cardboard tubes into a van later in the day when one of the walls collapsed pinning Mr Ridings to the floor.

The 39-year-old broke his leg, back, pelvis and hip. He required a wheelchair for eight weeks, was on crutches for seven months, and his injuries are likely to affect him for the rest of his life.

An investigation into the incident found that the wall had not been designed to cope with the weight of dozens of carpet rolls stacked up against it.

What was the outcome?

West Pennine Carpets Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £16,500 and ordered to pay £10,000 in prosecution costs.

After the hearing HSE Inspector, Ian Betley, said:

“This was an easily preventable incident which will have an impact on
one of West Pennine Carpets’ employees for the rest of his life.
It is unlikely Arron will ever be able to return to manual work.

“The firm should have carried out detailed design calculations, or sought
advice from an independent structural engineer, before allowing the
work to build the new walls to go ahead.

“The company should also have taken action to improve the stability of the
walls when one of them started to lean, rather than temporarily
removing some of the carpet rolls. If this had happened then
the terrible injuries Arron suffered could
have been avoided.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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