The front wall of a 19th-century tenement house in Rybnik collapsed in an instant. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the construction disaster, but that doesn’t mean that no one will be charged for what happened. The prosecutor’s office already has an expert opinion and has just charged the construction manager. The man pleads not guilty.
The tenement house from the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries collapsed in March in Rybnik. The incident took place during construction works in a four-story building. It collapsed front wall and all ceilings between storeys. Fortunately, no one was hurt, because at that moment the workers were on a break.
The accused construction manager
On Friday (August 27), the deputy district prosecutor in Rybnik, Barbara Drewniok announced that, based on the evidence collected, charges were presented to the construction manager. Investigators accuse him of committing a crime of bringing about an event that threatens the life or health of many people, as well as large-scale property, by failing to ensure proper organization and management of works. – The suspect is a civil engineer by education, runs his own business in the field of architectural and construction design. He was questioned in the prosecutor’s office yesterday, did not plead guilty to the alleged offense and exercised his right to refuse to provide explanations, declaring that he would provide explanations at a later date after reviewing the evidence collected in the case, informed prosecutor Barbara Drewniok.
Handy and no function
The prosecutor applied preventive measures against the suspect in the form of a suspension in the performance of independent technical functions in the construction industry related to his construction qualifications, combined with an order to refrain from performing the described functions and a property guarantee in the amount of PLN 10,000. The suspect may be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
The District Prosecutor’s Office in Rybnik has been collecting evidence in the case for several months. It is known that the opinion of a court expert in the field of occupational health and safety during construction works was obtained. He stated that the cause of the construction disaster was improper technology of construction and demolition works in the facility. As the investigators claim – the structural elements in the form of a ceiling above the ground floor were removed, without protecting the external walls against the so-called buckling, moreover, the window openings on the ground floor were enlarged, without filling the space between the lintel beam and the wall above it.
As a consequence, the structural elements were loosened and the wall made of technically heavily worn-out building material buckled, which in turn led to the collapse of a part of the building. Moreover, in the opinion of the expert, the works carried out in the tenement house were not performed in accordance with the principles of technology and construction art. And in the case of replacing the ceiling – as the investigators found – above the ground floor rooms, also without the required reconstruction project and without a building permit issued on the basis of such a project. According to the expert’s findings, the works were not properly supervised by the site manager and were performed by people who had no experience in this type of activity. As the prosecution points out, the collapse of the building caused large-scale property damage and threatened the life or health of many people, including employees working in the building, as well as bystanders.
The opinions of the expert and the commission are similar
Prosecutor Drewniok pointed out that the conclusions as to the causes of the disaster resulting from the expert opinion obtained in the course of the investigation are consistent with the findings of the commission appointed by the District Construction Supervision Inspector for the city of Rybnik in order to determine the circumstances and causes of the construction disaster, including the expert opinion obtained for the purposes of this proceeding. by a team of specialists. The findings of the investigation show that the mining shock from the ROW Ruch Rydułtowy mine, which was considered one of the possible causes of the disaster, occurred 17 seconds after the collapse of the building. In the opinion of the expert, even if it were assumed that the shock had occurred before the event, it would not have had a negative impact on the building if the work in it had been performed correctly.
Main photo source: Material from the municipal monitoring in Rybnik