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Contractor guilty of unsafe demolition

8 June 2017 | By James Kenny

A contractor has received a suspended jail sentence for carrying out unsafe demolition work on a building in Kent.

An HSE investigation into the collapse of the building in High Street, Ramsgate, on 6 November 2013, found that Martin Elmes had failed to properly plan the work and undertook the demolition unsafely.

Canterbury Crown Court heard that the building was owned by Panther AL (VAT) Ltd (PALL). Elmes was contracted to undertake the demolition work.

PALL did not make any enquiries into the suitability or competence of Elmes to undertake the demolition.

Neither PALL nor Elmes applied for a road closure and members of the public were put at risk.

Panther AL (VAT) Limited, of Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching CDM Regulations and was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,128.89.

Elmes, of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, also pleaded guilty to breaching CDM Regulations and was sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for two years.

HSE inspector Andrew Cousins said after the hearing: “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.”

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