Demolition-firm boss drove worker round in excavator bucket18 July 2012
The actions of a company director found guilty earlier this week of endangering workers have been described as “staggering” by the inspector involved in the case.
Colin Bell, director of Rabbit Demolition and Excavation Ltd, based in Lancing, West Sussex, appeared before Worthing magistrates on 16 July to answer charges of failing to provide a safe means of working on a roof during the demolition of the Ball Tree Inn, on Busticle Lane, Sompting, between 12 and 21 September 2011.
The court heard that a member of the public sent the 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.
The 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.
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 £2000 and ordered to pay costs of £4500.
Colin Bell, of Portslade, Brighton, pleaded guilty to the same breach and was fined £500, with costs of £500.
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.”
He added: “It is staggering that Colin Bell not only allowed such unsafe working practice but actually participated in it.”
The inspector concluded: “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.”
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