June 22, 2017

Demolition contractor and property owner plead guilty to ‘uncontrolled collapse’

News Article

A property owner and demolition contractor have appeared in court after an uncontrolled building collapse onto a High Street ‘put lives at risk.’

Canterbury Crown Court heard how the building’s owner Panther AL (VAT) Ltd (PALL) failed to carry out any checks to ensure that contractor Martin Elmes had the necessary competence and suitability to carry out the demolition work on the building, located on the High Street in Ramsgate, Kent.

During an investigation into the incident, which happened in November 2013, it was discovered that neither party had applied for a road closure which had put the lives of members of the public at risk.

Both defendants pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches. The building’s owners were fined £160,000 plus costs of more than £9,000, while contractor, Martin Elmes, was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Cousins said: “Lives were put at risk when this structure uncontrollably collapsed. Clients have a responsibility to appoint competent contractors to undertake hazardous work such as demolition.

“Those in control of demolition have a responsibility to plan demolition work and to devise a safe way of working that protects both the workers and members of the public.

“The job could have been safely carried out by simply undertaking the demolition behind a substantial hoarding.”

Lara Murray, an Associate with Palmers who specialises in health and safety legal issues, said: “This case illustrates that not only the contractor but also the client responsible for appointing him, were deemed to be culpable.

“Any company involved in construction or engineering work which could potentially pose a risk to members of the public or their own employees, has a duty of care to ensure that the work is carried out in such a way that it is compliant with health and safety regulations.

“Robust risk assessments and method statements for identified tasks as required by health and safety regulations, will not only reduce the risk of untoward incidents but will also avoid costly fines and harm to your company’s reputation.”

For further information on Palmers employment and health and safety legal support, please contact us.