Patrick O’Sullivan, 54, a worker with concrete firm PC Harrington, was killed after a work platform being lifted by a tower crane plunged 30 m to the ground.
Building can reveal that a joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive and the Metropolitan police is looking at two similar accidents at Wembley within the past few months. It is also probing an incident on another London site involving PC Harrington and Multiplex, Wembley’s main contractor.
Multiplex told Building that safety on the site was paramount, and that allegations of sabotage were “utter rubbish”. PC Harrington refused to comment.
HSE inspectors and police officers swooped on the Wembley site office on 24 January, the day after the accident happened, and removed the minutes of project safety meetings.
Barry Mullen, the HSE’s principle inspector for the investigation, refused to be drawn on whether a prosecution is to be brought against PC Harrington. But he acknowledged that the past incidents would be taken into account and sabotage could not be ruled out. He said: “We are looking at all the issues.”
Two potentially fatal accidents occurred in March and April last year on the Wembley site. In the first, a container of steel bars fell from a crane, narrowly missing workers on the ground. This was caused by supporting rope that got caught on a working platform.
In the second, a concrete skip pour fell to the ground from a platform, again narrowly missing workers.
The investigation will also look at an incident in which a section of formwork for a concrete-slab floor fell on to a road. This occurred in October, on a £110m residential project in Knightsbridge, west London, where PC Harrington was the concrete contractor and Multiplex was the main contractor. The HSE responded by placing improvement notices on Multiplex and PC Harrington but is now understood to be reopening the case.
One Wembley project insider said that there had been ill feeling on the site for a number of months because of safety failures. He said it was unusual to have so many similar accidents within such a short time, and for those accidents to involve the same two contractors.
He said: “You cannot rule out foul play; a number of men have left the project on bad terms for various reasons, including safety issues. All these men still have friends on the site, who could be trying to cause embarrassment to Harrington.”
The insider added, however: “Even with all the feeling from the men
on the site, it is still very possible that the accident occurred from a systematic procedural safety failure.”
It is understood that changes have been made to the working platforms in use at Wembley.
The HSE’s Barry Mullen said that the manufacturer of the platform was assisting with enquiries.