Child injured by wall collapse incident

Council failed to carry out “intelligence led” condition inspections

A local Council has been sentenced after a brick boundary wall (part-owned by the Council) collapsed and seriously injured a six-year-old girl in August 2016.

Basildon Crown Court heard how the wall spanning the back of two houses collapsed onto the girl during a family barbecue. She was placed in an induced coma after sustaining serious and life-threatening injuries.

She was in intensive care for 7 days and in hospital for 10 days and still suffers some physical and emotional problems.

Low frequency high consequence event

HSE investigators found the council failed to take any action after receiving concerns about the condition of the wall from tenants, two years prior to the incident.

Wider concerns about the poor condition of brick walls in the vicinity, including council-owned walls, were not passed to building control or the Council inspection 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 was fined £133,333 and ordered to pay costs of £21,419.55.

Speaking after 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.”