Developer had ignored Prohibition Notice to continue work on unstable building… A property developer in Sheffield has been fined after a building he had been renovating collapsed sending tonnes of rubble into the surrounding area and endangering the safety of nearby shop workers.
The developer had already received a legal enforcement notice asking him to cease his demolition job at the site because of the unstable nature of the building but he ignored the notice putting the lives of workers in the vicinity of the building at serious risk.
Sheffield Magistrates’ Court head that the developer had resumed demolition work in late 2010 despite breaching a Prohibition Notice that had been served in April 2008. The fact that he continued with the demolition job increased the likelihood of a collapse as his work further destabilised the building according to the HSE.
The building eventually did collapse on 4 February after the gable end of the two-storey building gave way leading to 10 tonnes of brick and rubble crashing to the ground and through the roof of the neighbouring fishing tackle shop which had been open for business at the time of the accident. The two workers in the fishing tackle shop narrowly escaped death as the rubble just missed them.
Sheffield City Council proceeded to send in a dangerous structures unit to complete the demolition of the building as there were serious concerns about the safety of the rest of the building and South Yorkshire Police had warned of the dangers of the remainder of the structure collapsing onto the adjacent road.
The property developer pleaded guilty to breaches of the Construction Regulations 2007 and to breaching a Prohibition Notice. He was fined £6,000 in addition to costs of £2,418 costs.
Dave Bradley, the HSE Inspector who investigated the case spoke after the hearing:
“This was an extremely serious incident with the potential to kill several people in the shop as well as pedestrians and people in cars on Effingham Road at the time. The fact that no one was injured was pure good fortune.
“It was an entirely avoidable incident. Had the developer employed a competent engineer, temporary supports could have been designed and installed to prevent a premature collapse of the structure. He had been warned of the dangers, advised on what to do and yet he recklessly ignored this advice and by doing so put the lives of many people at risk.
“Demolition is a high-risk activity that needs to be carefully planned – from start to finish – to ensure it doesn’t result in the uncontrolled collapse of a building or parts of it. The controls needed are well known in the industry and the costs involved are not prohibitively expensive when balanced against the risks.”