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Dodgy demolition procedures land director in the dock

17 Jul 12 A demolition firm and its director have been fined for endangering workers at a site in Lancing, West Sussex.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Rabbit Demolition and Excavation Ltd and its director, Colin Bell, for not providing a safe means for working on a roof during the demolition of the Ball Tree Inn, on Busticle Lane, Sompting, between the 12 and 21 September last year.

Worthing Magistrates' Court heard that a member of the public sent HSE a photograph showing workers on the site, run by Rabbit Demolition, removing roof tiles from the former pub with no edge protection in place to prevent falls. One worker was also shown to be standing in the bucket of an excavator being driven by Colin Bell.

HSE investigated and found working practices were unsafe and unnecessary, and that edge protection in the form of scaffolding could have been provided.

Alternatively, the work could have been safely carried out using a mobile elevated working platform.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Denis Bodger said: "Falls from height account for more deaths and serious injuries in the construction industry than anything else. This was a clear example of unsafe working on a roof. One slip and someone could easily have been killed or seriously injured.

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"It is staggering that Colin Bell not only allowed such unsafe work practice but actually participated in it.

"Contractors carrying out construction work, including demolition, should properly plan, manage and monitor the work to ensure that it is carried out safely. Where work at height is undertaken, precautions should ensure that people cannot be injured from falling. If people work on roofs to reclaim tiles, edge protection in the form of guard rails or other equally effective measures must be provided."

Rabbit Demolition and Excavation Ltd, of Unit 2, Chartwell Road, Lancing, West Sussex, pleaded guilty to breaching section 25(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The firm was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500.

Colin Bell, director of Rabbit Demolition and Excavation Ltd, of Edgehill Way, Portslade, Brighton, also pleaded guilty to the same breach. He was fined £500 with costs of £500.

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