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July 12, 2011

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Demolition workers sent into unstable building

A demolition firm has admitted putting workers at risk by sending them into an unstable building.

Grimsby Magistrates Court heard that H Cope and Sons (Demolition) Ltd had been contracted to remove asbestos debris during the demolition of the Old Fish House in Grimsby Docks. It had sub-contracted labourer Daniel Cope, 36, who was a nephew of the firm’s owner, to work as part of a team to clear the hazardous substance from the site.

On 21 May 2010, Mr Cope and another worker were sent into the building after an excavator was used to pull down roof sheets, which contained asbestos. While they were inside part of the roof collapsed and struck Mr Cope on the head, knocking him to the ground. He suffered a fractured knee and bruising to his neck and shoulders. The other man escaped unhurt.

HSE principal inspector Dave Redman revealed that the company was aware that the ceiling joists were rotten, and hence that meaning the roof was not properly supported. But it still sent workers inside the building despite the roof having been partially demolished. He said: “Sending two workers into a partially demolished building to sort roofing material brought down by machine very nearly resulted in a fatal incident. There was a large dent and crack in Daniel’s hard hat afterwards – a stark indication of how close he came to severe injury.

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