Demolition company fined over 'avoidable' incident

A DEMOLITION firm has been fined £12,000 and ordered to pay more than £3,500 costs after it admitted failing to protect a worker who fell through a roof while helping to knock down a block of garages.

The man, who has not been named, suffered a "shattered" leg and broken wrist when he fell seven feet through a fragile roof in Walmsgate Place, Grimsby, in January 2009.

Despite undergoing a series of complex operations, including having pins and plates inserted in his limbs, and having reconstructive surgery, he remains in constant pain.

He has been unable to work since the incident and is unlikely to work in the construction industry again, investigators said.

His employers, H Cope and Sons Ltd, of Moody Lane, Grimsby, pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety regulations at Grimsby Magistrates' Court.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the firm's planning was inadequate and failed to take into account how the garages were constructed.

Supervision was so poor the firm was unaware employees had to go onto the roofs to dismantle them and break asbestos cement flashings.

And although the firm had identified equipment that should have been provided – such as a tower scaffold and dust suppression spray, plus basic facilities like toilets – it failed to provide them.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Dave Bradley said the firm at failed to meet its obligations in several areas.

He said: "This incident has had a devastating and long-term impact on the man involved. Sadly, it was also totally avoidable.

"Demolition work needs to be properly planned and supervised, regardless of the size.

"Also, to allow demolition work on structures containing asbestos cement without the provision of any welfare facilities is completely unacceptable. Buckets in the back of a van – as was evident in this case – do not constitute welfare facilities."

As well as the fine, the company was ordered to pay costs of 3,570.80.

More than 4,000 major injuries were caused by falls from height at work between 2008 and 2009.