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Wed September 22 2021

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Hard hat saves labourer

7 Jul 11 A labourer sent into a partly-demolished building was left with a dented and cracked hard hat when the ceiling collapsed on him. His knee was broken, but it could have been much worse.

The demolition company responsible for the incident was in the dock yesterday atGrimsby magistrates' court.

The court heard that self-employed labourer Daniel Cope, 36, was part of a team demolishing the Old Fish House in Grimsby Docks in May 2010. After an excavator was used to pull down some asbestos-containing roof sheets, he and a fellow worker were sent in by a site supervisor from H. Cope and Sons (Demolition) Ltd to remove asbestos debris to reduce contamination of the rest of the rubble.

Shortly after going into the building, the left hand edge of the ceiling collapsed striking Mr Cope on the head and sending him crashing to the ground. He broke his knee and suffered severe bruising to his neck and shoulder. His colleague, who was working at the opposite edge, escaped unhurt.

H. Cope and Sons (Demolition) Ltd. of Moody Lane,Grimsby, pleaded guilty to a breach of safety legislation in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution.

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The HSE investigation revealed the company knew the joists supporting the ceiling were rotten and the asbestos sheets had not been removed before demolition as it was too dangerous to walk on the floor to get access. This had not been considered before sending the workers in to retrieve fallen materials.

Principal HSE inspector Dave Redman said: "Sending two workers into a partially demolished building to sort roofing material brought down by machine very nearly resulted in a fatal incident. There was a large dent and crack in Daniel's hard hat afterwards - a stark indication of how close he came to severe injury. As it is he suffered a badly broken knee and extensive bruising. His co-worker was fortunate not to have been injured by this collapse.

"Demolition is a dangerous activity that requires careful planning to assess the building structure to ensure a safe way of bringing it down. It's common practice in the industry to prevent anyone entering a building under demolition because of the potential instability and falling debris. This firm disregarded recognised procedures and exposed workers to danger."

Magistrates fined H. Cope and Sons (Demolition) Ltd £7,500 with £5,000 towards costs for a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

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