Architects fined for failing to pass on fire risk information

By on

A Teesside architecture firm has been prosecuted for failing to pass information about the flammability of a new timber frame building on to contractors.

Mario Minchella Ltd was fined £1,500 after a routine HSE inspection in October 2012 of the building site in Hemlington found there was nothing in the company’s design specification to alert construction workers erecting the timber frame to the additional fire risk it created, and the need to take action accordingly.

The inspector found that the separation distance between the new timber frame building and an adjacent occupied care home was insufficient. As a result, had the timber frame caught fire there was a serious risk the radiant heat would cause the fire to spread to the care home, putting the lives of residents and staff at risk.

Timber frames burn faster and more completely when the panels are incomplete and not yet protected by internal fire-resistant plasterboard and external cladding, HSE inspector Andrea Robbins explained after the hearing.

Teesside Magistrates’ Court was told that it would have been reasonable for Mario Minchella Ltd to have specified in its design that fire-resistant timber be used or that it considered the sequence of construction so the timber frame of each floor was clad before the next one was constructed, reducing the amount of timber exposed at any one time.

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 11(3)(b) and 11(6)(c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was ordered to pay £816 in costs.

Robbins added: “When burning, exposed timber frame structures generate a lot of radiant heat and there have been a number of large and serious fires which have affected neighbouring properties with devastating consequences, though thankfully without loss of life.

“There was a real danger here that had there been a fire it could have spread to the adjacent care home, putting the lives of the residents and staff inside at risk. Mario Minchella Ltd failed to consider this risk in its design and failed to provide sufficient information to the contractors to enable them to carry out the construction safely.”



Overall Winner AHMED Wellbeing in Workplace SMLL.jpg

Design can save lives

By British Safety Council on 03 December 2018

The British Safety Council has revealed the winners of its multimedia poster competition, ‘Images of wellbeing’, which showcases images of wellbeing at work and in an educational environment.

Orchestra SMLL iStock_credit-cyano66.jpg

Sound reason

By Mark Glover explores the music sector‘s health and safety responsibilities on 03 September 2018

A former member of the Royal Opera House orchestra has won a case against his ex-employers for hearing damage. Will the ruling – the first of its kind – be the catalyst for similar claims and does the entertainment and industry now need to sit up and take notice?

Woman iStock-SMLL.jpg

Worker is not a geographical definition

By Estelle Clark, Chartered Quality Institute looks at changes ushered in by ISO 45001 on 01 August 2018

The publication of ISO 45001 is a right step in addressing safety on a global scale. Organisations must guarantee similar occupational standards in their supply chains.