Demolition worker in Isle of Wight building site fatality
Posted Sep 09, 2020.
A recent case at Portsmouth Crown Court, Hampshire has once again highlighted the danger of serious injury or even death that can still often face workers on construction sites throughout the UK.
The tragic case in question involved David Shayler, a father of two and employee of Ryde Demolition Ltd, a well-established firm experienced in providing demolition, reclamation and scaffolding services. Together with another colleague, Mr Shayler was helping to demolish a building by manually removing roof timbers when a gable wall partly gave way, resulting in him falling and hitting his head on a pile of roof tiles.
The incident, which originally occurred in October 2016, prompted a full investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the government agency responsible for the design, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare in the UK. The investigation found that the demolition work was poorly planned and managed by three companies involved; that the removal of the roof timbers was carried out in the wrong sequence; and that the brick built gable that eventually collapsed had been left in a dangerously unstable condition. Furthermore, despite concerns that had been raised by workers on the site in the days preceding the incident, insufficient provision had been made to prevent falls from height.
Health and safety in the workplace fines
The hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court resulted in the following sanctions. Ryde Demolition Ltd of St Johns Hill, Ryde pleaded guilty to breaching two counts of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £12,132 in costs. HJ Bennett Ltd of Pyle Street, Newport pleaded guilty to breaching two counts of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, were fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £12,057 in costs. Stoneham Construction Ltd of St Johns Place, Newport pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015, were fined £56,667 and ordered to pay £12,004 in costs.
In commenting on the case, HSE inspector Dominic Goacher said:
“This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the companies’ failure to implement safe systems of work. Demolition is a high-risk activity whose safe execution is complex and technical and where expertise is vital. The risk of unintended structural collapse is well known within the industry. Demolition requires careful planning and execution by contractors who are competent in the full range of demolition techniques. Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country, and the risks associated with working at height are well known. In this case the risks of structural collapse and falling from height were not controlled, which led to the preventable death of a father-of-two.”
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