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WALL COLLAPSE SENT FALLING MASONRY INTO HOME

Competent structural engineer should have been consulted

Axis Build Ltd has appeared in court after a “botched demolition” sent masonry crashing into the kitchen of a neighbouring property, narrowly missing an occupant who had just left the room in North London in June 2013.

Westminster Magistrates were told that debris, including large slabs of brickwork from an end wall, fell on the adjoining property because the firm failed to properly plan the demolition work to prevent part of the building collapsing in an uncontrolled manner.

HSE found the incident could have easily been avoided by use of competent people e.g. a structural engineer, in the planning process.

The court heard although there had been no injuries, an occupant of the neighbouring house had been in the kitchen only moments before masonry had crashed through a skylight.

Uncontrolled collapse of wall

Axis Build Ltd, of Chesham, Bucks, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £1,338 in costs after admitting breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations by failing to plan the demolition in such a way as to avoid danger, or reduce it to as low a level as possible.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jack Wilby said:

“With this type of demolition, where an excavator eats into the building from one side to the other, there is likely to be a free-standing wall at one end that should be supported, particularly, where this wall is close to a boundary wall.

The removal by Axis Build of parts of the building without supporting a remaining wall led to the uncontrolled collapse of that wall. This resulted in immediate danger to both the employees and other people – in this case the residents of the house next door.

The competence of those assessing the risks of the job was just not good enough. You need someone who understands the integrity of domestic buildings and how they are held together.

The resulting clear-up operation put further lives at risk as workers went up on to a roof without adequate means to prevent them from falling from that roof.”

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