Tragically, two men died and six other people were injured after part of a balcony collapsed in west London when the railings gave way of a building at Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Friday 21st November 2014. Cadogan Square consists of residential properties, with many of the buildings divided into flats. The first-floor balcony is believed to have been connected to property number 37, a five-storey terraced building.
The decorative wrought-iron railing appears to have fallen about 3.6m (12ft) to the ground. The stone base of the balcony appeared to remain undamaged.
London Ambulance Service said that eight people were treated for injuries, one man died at the scene and the other in hospital. The men who died are believed to be Polish nationals Tomasz Procko, 22, of Greenford, and Karol Szymanski, 29, of Wembley.
Scotland Yard said:
“At this early stage it is believed that a number of sofas were being delivered to the address – which was under renovation – prior to the railings on the balcony giving way.”
A neighbour, Sandra Panagopoulos, said:
I saw somebody lying on the street in front of [number] 37. I just saw someone lying there and a woman that was desperately trying to help, running into the building and out and all the builders being very distressed walking around here and sitting down…then somebody came and told me that two removal boys fell from the first-floor balcony because the railing apparently fell down. They fell down trying to get a sofa up there.”
Eye witness’ at the scene said that the workmen were trying to pull a couch up to the first-floor apartment with ropes, it was apparently too heavy and the fence broke off and fell on the workmen below.
Sinclair Johnston, an engineer who has worked on another property in the square, said the decorative railings could not be depended upon to support weight.
These sort of constructions are always very fragile and the iron railings can rust. The stone can become fragile and break up so you never really know how strong they are. It’s something that engineers are very aware of. The ironwork is incredibly heavy so if it falls off it can be a disaster.”
Estate agent Clem Byron-Evans said:
In head leases it tends to say that you are not allowed to move furniture through the ground floor. The ruling was due to the ground floor area in similar properties being communal and residents would be liable for any damage.
The Health and Safety Executive and police are investigating.
Police asked that anyone with information contact them on 02087858244 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.
A Quantum Compliance Health and Safety Consultant advises;
Structural inspections by a structural engineer (as required under building regulations) should undertake regular workplace inspections and risk assessments. If in any case there is a lack of competence to undertake workplace inspections, experts should be brought in to do so.