On 29 August 2023, at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Thurlow Educational Trust pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The Trust was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £7,116 in costs after a ceiling in a classroom at Rosemead Preparatory School, overloaded with stored furniture, collapsed onto a room full of year three pupils in November 2021.
Fifteen children aged between seven and eight and the class teacher, were treated for injuries including upper limb fractures, cuts and concussion.
The HSE investigation, supported by advice from the specialist construction and civil engineering inspector, established that the construction of the roof was not designed to bear any weight other than that of the lath and plaster ceiling, nothing further. The investigation concluded that the overloading of the ceiling significantly contributed to its collapse. The HSE found that the Trust which runs the school, had failed to undertake any structural or load bearing capability assessments of the area being used to store the furniture, and had failed to assess whether the area above the ceiling was appropriate to be used for the storage of the items placed there.
It is vital that when any part of a building is to be repurposed that it is determined that the area is suitable (that is has sufficient strength and stability) for its new intended use.
If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, please contact Gary Foggo.