A Hertfordshire based demolition contractor found guilty of safety failings across two building separate sites has been sentenced in court.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had received a complaint back in March 2014 from a resident living close to the old Chesham Community Hospital site in Buckinghamshire, concerning building works that were taking place there at the site.
HSE inspectors arrived to find a number of failings including the presence of asbestos containing materials contained within the building debris, demolition arrangements that had not been recorded in writing and witness accounts observing dangerous practices including unsafe use of construction machinery and work at height, poor site security and a distinct lack of welfare facilities. There was also a serious risk of injury from collapse of partially demolished buildings according to the HSE.
Immediate action was taken in the form of Prohibition and Improvement Notices being served on both the demolition contractor and the client in order to ensure that any on-going risks were fully controlled. The client (Chesham Care Ltd) was prosecuted for failings under the CDM (Construction, Design & Management) Regulations 2007. They were also fined a total amount of £30,000 in October 2015.
Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court heard that the HSE made numerous attempts to try and contact the demolition contractor without any success. However, back in June 2015 an HSE inspector was made aware of unsafe working conditions and practices at a site in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
When the HSE inspector visited the site in question he found the same demolition contractor in charge of workers who were unsafely dismantling parts of the building to uncover recyclables such as metal. They had no carried out any risk assessment prior to this with regards to respiratory exposure to asbestos containing materials. The client informed HSE that the contractor was infact on the site without their knowledge and he had notified the police.
A private investigator was hired in addition to immediate enforcement action being taken on site to control any risks, and he was used to locate the contractor who had failed to respond to HSE.
Milton Keynes Magistrates Court heard that Scot Ian Richardson of Aztec Demolition was the acting contractor in charge for both projects. Following trial, Scot Ian Richardson was found guilty of breeching of the CDM Regulations 2007 on two counts, one breach of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and one breach of The Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974. He was subsequently sentenced to four months suspended custodial sentence and also received a 200 hours community service order. In addition to this, he was also ordered to pay costs in excess of £1,200.
Following the court hearing, HSE inspector Rauf Ahmed said: “Sole traders who control workers to demolish and dismantle structures must understand their legal obligations. This is a high risk industry in which poor planning has no place. Family members expect their loved ones to come home in one piece.”
He went on further to say, “Clients have a key role in safely directing construction projects. Effective arrangements at the start can have an amplified positive impact down the various stages to completion, including making informed and competent appointments.”
Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting https://www.armco.org.uk/. Alternatively call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/ for enquiries or to book a training course.
Published Jun 28, 2016