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CLIENT FINED AS CDM 2015 PRINCIPAL CONTRACTOR

Failure by client to appoint attracts PC duties by default

The owner of block of flats has been prosecuted and fined £200,000 after HSE identified serious safety breaches during demolition of the building in South London.

Westminster Magistrates heard that a member of the public raised concerns about the conditions at the site in Mitcham. The building owner and client for the demolition work had failed to make appropriate appointments for the development project.

In October 2016 HSE Inspectors stopped the work because workers were being exposed to a range of risks including exposure to asbestos, falling from height, and fire. When HSE revisited the site January 2017 work had restarted whilst the site was still unsafe, despite enforcement notices being served and advice being provided.

The demolition work continued to be carried out “by hand” with workers climbing onto the unguarded roof and throwing the debris to the ground below. Workers were at risk of falling up to 4m through openings in the floors and partly demolished staircase.

Welfare facilities were not provided and there was a significant risk of fire without adequate means of escape. The Court heard that two days before the sentencing hearing HSE had to return to the site and take further action.

Defendant put “profit before safety”

Mr Selliah Sivaneswaran was the project client which involved the demolition of existing flats and construction of 6 new flats. The Court heard that despite the foreseeably large financial return from the project, Mr Sivaneswaran put profit before safety and paid cash in hand to untrained workers, failed to engage a site manager, and provided none of the legally-required site documentation.

  • Selliah Sivguru Sivaneswaran – of Harlyn Drive, Pinner pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) and 4(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £1,421.20 in costs.

HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers commented after the hearing:

“Mr. Sivaneswaran was a commercial client as he was carrying out work as part of a business. When he failed to appoint a Principal Contractor (PC) the the PC duties fell to him.

Thanks to a member of the public reporting the dangerous conditions HSE was able to take action. It was just good fortune that no one had been killed at the site.

Instead of taking the support and advice provided by HSE, Mr. Sivaneswaran continued to let the workers operate in appalling conditions where they were at risk of being killed. He did not even provide a WC or washing facilities”.

 

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