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DEMOLITION FIRM IGNORED BASIC LEGAL REQUIREMENTS

Workman fell through fragile roof causing serious long-term injuries

H. Cope & Sons Ltd, of  Grimsby, has been ordered to pay over £15,000 in fines and prosecution costs after a demolition worker suffered severe injuries when he fell through a garage roof.

The workman fractured his leg and wrist after falling 2m through a fragile asbestos cement roof during the demolition a block of single-storey garages in January 2009.

The injured man started with the company just four months earlier and required several operations. He has been unable to work since the incident and, despite bouts of reconstructive surgery, remains in constant pain. He is unlikely to return to work in the construction industry.

Firm failed to plan for safety

HSE investigators found the firm’s planning was inadequate and failed to take into account how the garages were constructed. The company was unaware employees needed to go onto the roofs to dismantle the structures and break-up asbestos cement flashings.

The defendant had identified equipment that should have been provided (e.g. tower scaffold and dust suppression spray, plus basic facilities including toilets. However, it failed to provide them. The company was prosecuted under HSW Act S2 and was fined a total of £12,000 with costs of £3,570.80.

HSE Inspector Dave Bradley said:

“This incident has had a devastating and long-term impact on the man involved. Sadly, it was also totally avoidable.

Demolition work needs to be properly planned and supervised, regardless of the size. Also, to allow demolition work on structures containing asbestos cement without the provision of any welfare facilities is completely unacceptable.

Buckets in the back of a van – as was evident in this case – do not constitute welfare facilities.”

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