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Wife nearly killed by builder

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I promise that I’m not exaggerating.

I’m quite shocked about the incident and not entirely sure what to do.


Would welcome some advice.


We’re having a loft conversion done by a seemingly reputable building company.


Earlier this week my wife was in our first floor bedroom when a steel girder came crashing through the ceiling.


It didn’t drop through all the way

- the builder working in the loft was able to stop it.


it came down a long way: certainly beyond head height.

My wife had been standing exactly where it came crashing down only a moment before

- fortunately she had moved just before the incident.

She would have been struck on the head otherwise, with presumably devastating consequences.

It’s really frightening to think about, to be honest.


The builder was quite shaken by the whole incident, but his supervisor seemed to imply that it wasn’t too serious, said he didn’t think the beam had descended all that far, and promised to fix the ceiling.


My wife is adamant that she knows exactly how far the beam came down

- the supervisor wasn’t there of course.


I wrote to the company to say that this was a really serious matter, that a disaster had narrowly been averted, and that I wanted both a proper investigation and for the incident to be formally reported as a “near miss”.


The Director of the company called me back the same day, was quite apologetic, but said there was little to be done now. The nature of the incident - ie no one was actually hurt -

- meant that there was no body that the incident should be reported to

- though they would formally record it in their register.


Otherwise he was prepared to dismiss ther builder, or move him off my job.

But I don’t want to damage a young lad’s livelihood.


In my experience, when accidents like this happen its usually because of systemic failures that enable individual errors to happen,


I’m worried that the company has been a bit dismissive of what I fear is a really serious incident, and that I have an obligation to make sure that lessons are properly learned so that no one else is put at risk like this.

Next time they might not be so lucky.


Would welcome others’ thoughts and advice on what I should do next?

Edited by dx100uk

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Yes it sounds serious but sometimes accidents happen.

The fact is that the director of the company is going to fix any damage caused and is apologetic says he is a reputable person.

In all fairness no injury's were sustained but they are recording it as a "near miss".


Unless you can prove negligent work practices in the reasons why the steel beam came lose then I dont think there is anywhere to go with this.

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Perhaps a GOGW could be reflected in their final invoice ?

We could do with some help from you.



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Until floor is down in the loft, the 1st floor should be a no entry zone when builders are at work.

Same for all the perimeter of the scaffolding at ground level.

Standard practice.


In other words they should prevent access to the staircase leading to 1st floor and if it is essential to get there (to use the toilet for example), builders should stop working and wait until it's clear.


There's plenty to do on a loft conversion job, so they don't really need to stop working, but just do something else which would make it impossible to let anything through the ceiling.

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Yes they admitted this.


Apparently the builder thought my wife was not in the house (she was, as were my children).


At no point was she told that no one should be upstairs whilst the beam was being moved.


The other thing the company said happened which shouldn’t have done was that the beam was broughtt high at an angle through the window space to the floor - where is was rested against a joist.


Apparently the beams should be moved low and flat - not at an angle - lest they then slide through the ceiling (as this one did).


Finally the company said they normally put the floors down before they put the high beams in - but for some reason the build went out of sequence.


They’ve been quite open about all this - but it seems to me quite negligent all the same,

Edited by dx100uk

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You can call the HSE as the building co seem to ahve some very unsafe practices by the looks of things. The HSE bod can order them to remedy unsafe working procedures but will certainly rip a new hole for them for their lack of written procedures. saying they normally do somehting but didnt is no excuse.

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the other thing I would be minded to do is to claim on their insurance rather than letting the director settle. If they refuse to countenace this then you start off with your insurer and tell them the full story I dont believe the words of the director and this will test them.

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the other thing I would be minded to do is to claim on their insurance rather than letting the director settle. If they refuse to countenace this then you start off with your insurer and tell them the full story I dont believe the words of the director and this will test them.


I don’t think there is anything to claim for: no one was actually injured (luckily) and the builders will repair the ceiling as part of the broader loft works.


I wasn’t sure whether we - as customers, rather than employers or employees - could report the incident to the HSE.

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