Construction News

Thu May 28 2020

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Three in the dock over botched demolition

1 May 18 A Scottish plant hire firm has been fined £20,000 after a demolition job went wrong, while two companies up the chain were also fined lesser sums for employing an incompetent contractor.

Charges were brought following the uncontrolled collapse of part of a building that was being demolished in Kilmacolm, Inverclyde in 2015.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard how Taylor Grange Developments of Birmingham was the client for the demolition and new build project at the former Kilmacolm Institute. Taylor Grange engaged Glasgow-based Allied Contracts Limited as principal contractor, who in turn appointed Altan Plant Hire Limited, also of Glasgow, to carry out the demolition of the three-storey building.

The court heard how, on 2nd June 2015, workers with no demolition training were inside the building demolishing internal walls by hand when a wall and ceiling collapsed. One worker, Richard O’Hagen, was taken to hospital suffering fractures to his neck, back and ankle.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that, as the client, Taylor Grange Developments had failed to make suitable arrangements for managing the demolition project, failed to make suitable arrangements to ensure that demolition work could be carried out without risks, failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that the principal contractor they appointed complied with their legal duties and failed to ensure that adequate welfare facilities were provided.

The investigation also found that, as principal contractor, Allied Contracts had failed to plan, manage and monitor the construction phase to ensure that the demolition work was carried out without risk to health and safety. It failed to appoint a demolition contractor that had the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability to carry out the work safely, failed to regularly check standards of health and safety on site and failed to ensure that adequate welfare facilities were provided on site during the demolition work.

For its part, Altan Plant Hire failed to plan the demolition safely and failed to take into account the risks to workers from structural collapse. The contractor failed to provide a safe system of work, opting for hand demolition methods rather than remote demolition by machine. It also failed to ensure the electrical supply was isolated, failed to plan work for the safe removal of asbestos cement sheets, failed to provide edge protection around holes in the floor and failed to provide adequate welfare facilities during the demolition work.

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Taylor Grange Developments Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 4(1), (2)(a) and (2)(b) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. It was fined £4,500.

Allied Contracts Limited was fined £6,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulations 13(1) and (4) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

Altan Plant Hire Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 15(7) and 20(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. It was fined £20,000.

HSE principal inspector Graeme McMinn said after the hearing: “This serious incident could have led to multiple fatalities and was caused by three separate duty holders not complying with their legal duties.

“Altan Pant Hire used inexperienced and untrained workers to demolish the three-storey building. They wrongly decided to use hand methods to demolish the building when remote demolition by machine was a much safer option. Allied Contracts Ltd failed to appoint a competent contractor to who could carry out the work safely and then failed to make any checks on how the work was done. Taylor Grange Developments Limited, as client, set the tone for the project by failing to make suitable arrangements to ensure the demolition work would be carried out safely and failing to ensure that the principal contractor they appointed was complying with their legal duties.

“In addition, none of these duty holders ensured that the workers on site had access to toilets, washing and canteen facilities. This incident is a stark reminder of what can happen when clients, principal contractors and contractors fail to comply with their legal duties.”

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