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Three firms fined after worker dies in wall collapse

28 August 2020

Three construction companies have been fined after a worker died following the collapse of a gable wall.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how, on 13 October 2016, David Shayler was removing roof timbers by hand when a gable wall partially collapsed, causing him to fall backwards, striking his head against a stack of roof tiles.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the work was inadequately planned and managed by all duty holders involved in the project.

It also found that the technique to remove the roof timbers was completed out of sequence and that the brick gable had been left unstable. 

Ryde Demolition of St Johns Hill, Ryde, pleaded guilty to breaching two counts of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The firm was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,100.

HJ Bennett Ltd of Pyle Street, Newport was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,000 after pleading guilty to breaching two counts of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The third firm, Stoneham Construction Limited of St Johns Place, Newport, also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015.

It was fined £56,667 and ordered to pay costs of £12,000.

HSE inspector Dominic Goacher said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the companies’ failure to implement safe systems of work.

“Demolition is a high-risk activity whose safe execution is complex and technical and where expertise is vital. The risk of unintended structural collapse is well known within the industry. Demolition requires careful planning and execution by contractors who are competent in the full range of demolition techniques.

“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country, and the risks associated with working at height are well known. In this case the risks of structural collapse and falling from height were not controlled, which led to the preventable death of a father-of-two.”