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ROOF COLLAPSED DURING DEMOLITION WORKS

Workman trapped and seriously injured in unplanned collapse

Ayrshire construction contractor J B Black Construction Services (John Gordon Black T/A) has been fined for serious safety failings after part of a roof fell on a workman during a demolition project in February 2013. Peter Mullen, aged 68, suffered severe injuries during demolition of a chalet at Turnberry Holiday Park in Girvan.

Ayrshire Sheriff Court heard (18 May) that Mr Mullen worked with two other employees to demolish a single story timber framed chalet which had been the park’s former reception using hand tools. The men did not have or use any props or supports for the task as doors and windows and a wall were removed.

Mr Mullen was in front of the chalet when the front roof section of the chalet fell forward over the front wall of the chalet which collapsed beneath it. Two colleagues ran to the rear of the building and jumped out of the way of the collapsing roof, which had slid forward 2.5m. The collapsed roof section, weighing around 600kg, came to rest on top of Mr Mullen trapping him.

Mr Mullen suffered ten broken ribs, a broken shoulder blade, collapsed lung, tear in his spleen and severely bruised kidneys. He spent four months in hospital and still suffers pain as a result of his injuries.

HSE told the court:

  • Written Arrangements – there were no written arrangement for carrying out the demolition work, as required by Regulation 29 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for this type of work; and
  • Exclusion Zone – there was no EZ around the demolition area and workers were within the footprint of the building and on top of the roof as it was demolished.

The defendant failed to assess the risk of structural collapse before the demolition work began and failed to plan the work properly.

Safer to use a long reach excavator

John Gordon Black, trading as J B Black Construction Services, of Maybole, was fined £2,660 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE inspector Moira Jennings said:

“This was an entirely avoidable incident. The risks associated with demolition activity are well known and long standing. Demolition, dismantling and structural alteration are high risk activities which require careful planning and execution by contractors who are competent in the full range of demolition techniques.

In this case, demolition using hand tools meant workers were unnecessarily exposed to the risk of structural collapse. It would have been safer to use a long reach excavator, which was subsequently brought in to complete the demolition following the incident.

Ultimately, the system of work planned by John Gordon Black was unsafe, resulting in severe injuries which still affect Mr Mullen today.”

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