CDM 2015 Know your place in the chain of responsibilities

A client, a principal contractor (PC) and a demolition contractor have racked up £30,500 in fines between them after a building collapsed on a demolition worker. The project they were jointly involved with consisted of demolishing and clearing a building and associated shops, and replacing them with a new building comprising of two ground floor rental units, residential flats above and a basement car park. The client engaged a PC, who in turn engaged a contractor to carry out the demolition work.

The Court was told that inexperienced and untrained workers were demolishing the building by hand when an internal wall and ceiling gave way and fell on one of them, who was consequently taken to hospital with fractures to his neck, back and ankle.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the demolition contractor had failed to provide a safe system of work as the workers were demolishing the structure with hand tools rather than mechanical equipment. The company had also failed to ensure the electrical supply had been isolated prior to work starting and had not planned for the safe removal of asbestos cement sheets.  In addition, there was no edge protection around holes in the floor and the welfare facilities were inadequate.

Consequently the PC was found to have not appointed a suitable and experienced demolition contractor, had failed to regularly monitor the activities on site or to ensure the provision of adequate welfare facilities. The investigation also found that the client should have taken steps to ensure that the PC complied with its legal duties.

The demolition contractor was fined £20,000 after it admitted breaching Regs 15(7) and 20(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 for employing workers who had not been trained and for failing to safely plan the demolition work.

The PC pleaded guilty to breaching Regs 13(1) and 13(4) of the same regulations for failing to provide an induction session for workers, and for not planning, managing and monitoring the work to ensure it was carried out safely. It was fined £6,000.

The client admitted breaching Regs 4(1), 4(2)(a) and 4(2)(b) of the CDM Regulations 2015, which cover client duties for managing projects. It was fined £4,500.

This incident and the resulting prosecution demonstrates what can happen when persons who need to co-operate, or have a duty to manage fail to live up to their responsibilities.

This is a good time to ensure risk assessments, standards, training and supervision are appropriate, up-to-date and the provisions of your health and safety policy are being applied in practice. You should bring this Safety Alert to the attention of all personnel who need to take action.

If you have a query regarding this alert, or any other health & safety issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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