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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
May 5, 2009

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Bricklayer forced to flee as building collapses

A property developer has been fined following the collapse of a derelict building, which was undergoing refurbishment.

Nottingham Crown Court heard that Bukan Singh Hothi, director of 426 Leicester Ltd, had bought a fire-damaged Victorian mill with the view to refurbish it into four residential properties.

After buying the property, which was located at 235a Radford Road, Nottingham, he contracted two bricklayers to demolish the building and then to begin work on the new design. In order to knock down the mill the bricklayers erected scaffolding around the building and removed the roof, before proceeding to reduce the height of the walls. But the workmen didn’t reduce the height of the scaffolding at the same rate as they lowered the walls, which resulted in the scaffolding standing at twice the height of what remained of the walls.

On 11 January 2007 one of the bricklayers was sheltering inside the mill from a storm, when heavy winds blew the scaffolding into one of the walls, which collapsed. The workman saw that the wall was caving in and fled the building while the debris was falling around him. Fortunately he managed to escape without receiving any injuries.

Hothi appeared in court on 27 April and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974, for failing to ensure the safety of persons not in his employment. He was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £7500 in costs.

In mitigation, he said this was the first time that he had been responsible for redeveloping a property and he accepted that a proper risk assessment hadn’t been put in place. He also assured the court that he would not undertake similar work in the future.

HSE inspector, Cliff Seymour, told SHP: “Firms involved in building work, refurbishment or maintenance should ensure that the work is planned properly and sensible measures taken so that both workers and the public are not exposed to risk. The building that collapsed was located in a residential area and next to an infant school, and these factors must be taken into account when planning the work.

“This case illustrates the importance of all risks being properly assessed so that appropriate working practices can be put in place to ensure that everyone is safe. These measures would include putting in place a construction health and safety plan and ensuring that the scaffolding was reduced at the same rate as the wall.”

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