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BUILDING COLLAPSED DURING DEMOLITION PROJECT

Firm sentenced after disused cinema collapses onto a dual carriageway

Gaskells Demolition Services Ltd has been prosecuted and fined after part of a former Liverpool cinema fell onto the A587 during rush hour in June 2010. The building had not been used since October 2009.

The company was contracted to demolish the building to make way for a new supermarket. During the work, part of the building and scaffolding collapsed, blocking the two northbound lanes of the dual carriageway for several hours. No one was injured in the collapse but one pedestrian suffered a near-miss and a car was also damaged.

HSE investigators found that despite some precautions arrangements for safe demolition were inadequate. An exclusion zone around the building had not been estsablished and temporary road closures were not secured during the course of the work.

The scaffolding erected at the front of the building was for access and did not provide structural support.

Suitable measures were required to protect the public

Gaskells Demolition Services Ltd admitted breaching Regulation 29(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company, of Oriel Road in Bootle, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in prosecution costs on 11 May 2011.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Anthony Polec said:

“The risk of buildings unexpectedly collapsing is well known in the demolition industry but Gaskells failed to take adequate action to prevent lives being put in danger.

The company should have put suitable measures in place to protect the public, such as applying to close the roads while the demolition work took place and setting up an exclusion zone to keep the public away.

It could also have erected facade retention scaffolding that could support the building, rather than relying on employees to keep a lookout for passers-by.

This was entirely inappropriate given the demolition work was taking place next to a busy dual carriageway on a weekday morning. It’s only luck that no one was seriously injured.”

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