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CLIENT FAILED TO APPOINT COMPETENT CONTRACTOR

Contractor receives prison term whilst CDM client fined £160,000

The owner of a building in Kent and a contractor employed to demolish the structure have been fined for safety failings after an uncontrolled collapse onto the High Street in November 2013.

Canterbury Crown Court heard that the building at the High Street, Ramsgate, Kent was owned by Panther AL (VAT) Limited. Contractor Martin Elmes was engaged to undertake the demolition work.

HSE investigators found that Martin Elmes failed to properly plan the work and carried out unsafe demolition work.

Panther AL (VAT) Limited (PALL) did not make any enquiries into the suitability or competence of Martin Elmes to undertake the demolition.

Neither PALL nor Martin Elmes applied for a road closure and members of the public were put at risk.

  • Martin Elmes – of Barnacres Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 25(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and has been sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for two years.
  • Panther AL (VAT) Limited – of Deneway House, Darkes Lane, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9128.89.

CDM 2007 (now replaced by the duty under CDM 2015) required that a construction client must not engage a contractor unless reasonable steps have been to ensure that the contractor is competent.

Competent contractors must be appointed

HSE inspector Andrew Cousins said after the hearing:

“Lives were put at risk when this structure uncontrollably collapsed. Clients have a responsibility to appoint competent contractors to undertake hazardous work such as demolition.

Those in control of demolition have a responsibility to plan demolition work and to devise a safe way of working that protects both the workers and members of the public.

The job could have been safely carried out by simply undertaking the demolition behind a substantial hoarding.”

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