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HEFTY FINE AFTER RESIDENTS ALERT HSE TO DEMO DANGERS

Demolition works exposed public and workforce to safety and asbestos risks

AA Construction (London) Ltd of Wimbledon has been ordered to pay over £45,0000 for endangering workers and the public with unsafe demolition work in south west London during February 2011.

Local residents raised concerns that asbestos materials were being “smashed up and littering the site”, that debris was dropping from height onto the road and footpath; and that the site was insecure despite its close proximity to a local school.

HSE was notified and served three enforcement notices relating to unsafe practices that forced the site to be closed until urgent improvements were made. Westminster Magistrates heard (24 October) that HSE investigators found numerous precautions were lacking to make the site safe, namely:

  • an asbestos survey had not been carried out;
  • asbestos was not removed intact to prevent release of fibres, segregated, disposed of correctly and progressively cleared allowing for safe access around the site;
  • health and safety and demolition plans were not in place to manage and ensure safe demolition; and
  • safe working platforms were not used e.g. scaffolding to prevent falls of people and material.

The company engaged inexperienced labourers to carry out demolition and asbestos removal, and failed to provide sufficient instruction, training, or supervision. The buildings could have been demolished remotely e.g. using long-reach demolition plant

Public ‘applauded’ for contacting HSE

AA Construction (London) Ltd  of Harrow, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £36,000 plus a £15 surcharge and with £9159 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Helen Donnelly said:

“Members of the public rightly raised concerns about unsafe working practices they witnessed at Quintin Avenue, and I applaud them for doing so.

AA Construction (London) Ltd took a reckless approach to demolition, which could have resulted in a serious incident.

Construction projects need to properly planned and safely managed by competent personnel using the right procedures and equipment. That clearly didn’t happen here, and I hope lessons have been learned.”

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