A six-year-old girl was seriously injured when a brick boundary wall, part-owned Basildon Borough Council, collapsed onto her.
A wall, which spanned the back of two houses in Fleetway, Vange, collapsed onto a six-year-old girl during a family barbeque on 14 August 2016, Basildon Crown Court was told. The girl sustained serious and sustaining serious and life-threatening injuries and was placed in an induced coma which left her in intensive care for seven days and in hospital for 10 days in total. She has made a good recovery but still suffers some physical and emotional problems.
The HSE’s investigation discovered that Basildon Borough Council had been told about the poor condition of the wall by tenants two years prior to the incident but had failed to take any action. There were also wider concerns about the condition of several other brick walls in the area, including council-owned walls, which were not were not passed to building control or the Council’s inspections teams. The Council failed to implement a system of intelligence-led inspection, maintenance and repair, to adequately identify and remedy the risks of collapses to boundary walls, both owned solely by the Council, or jointly with private residents.
Basildon Borough Council of The Basildon Centre, St Martins Square, Basildon, Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined of £133,333 and ordered to pay costs of £21,419.55.
Following the case, HSE Inspector Tania van Rixtel said: “This was a wholly avoidable incident which could easily have been fatal. If Basildon Borough Council had properly recorded residents’ concerns about the state of the walls, then a suitably qualified individual could have been engaged to identify the level of risk and instigated the required remedial action. despite the low frequency of wall collapses, they are high consequence events requiring those with the responsibility for structural safety to take proactive measures to ensure that boundary walls and other structures are safely maintained.”