Contractor fined after worker injured during demolition

A contractor has been fined after an employee was hit by falling debris from a wall that was being demolished in an unsafe manner.

Barrowbridge Construction Limited had been contracted to demolish a garage in Clitheroe, Lancashire, Blackpool Magistrates’ Court was told. Three operatives pushed over the remaining part of the external wall of the garage. One of the workers was struck at shoulder height by falling debris and fell to the ground, with the material falling on top of him. He sustained injuries to his shoulder and a fractured heel and ankle. The incident happened on January 2020.

An HSE investigation found that the demolition was not planned or carried out in a manner to prevent danger.

The risk assessments and method statement prepared by the company required the use of hand tools, including sledgehammers, to demolish the walls of the garage. No measures were identified or implemented which would maintain the stability of the wall throughout the demolition, resulting in a risk that the structure would become unstable and potentially collapse.

On their second day on site, the operatives decided that it would be safer to simply push the remaining wall over. This change to the method of work was made without consultation with the project manager and resulted in the operatives working in an unsafe area, putting themselves at risk of being struck by falling materials. The wall collapsed in two directions when pushed.

Barrowbridge Construction Limited, of Club Street, Barrow, Clitheroe pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 20(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £600 with costs of £1,947.00.

HSE Inspector, Jacqueline Western, said after the hearing: “This incident could so easily have been avoided if the company had properly planned, managed and monitored the demolition. The sequence of demolition should have been planned to maintain the stability of the structure throughout the process.

“Companies and contractors should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”