Contractor pleads guilty to putting workers’ lives at risk

A Birkenhead demolition firm has been fined £5,000 following a prosecution brought by the Health & Safety Executive for endangering staff working at height without handrails.

The lives of several workers were put at risk as they demolished an old office block in Liverpool, Liverpool Magistrates' Court heard on Thursday.

An inspector from the Health & Safety Executive issued an immediate Prohibition Notice ordering Total Demolition UK Ltd to stop work at the site on Blundell Street in the city centre until workers had protection against falling from height.

Liverpool Magistrates' Court heard that the inspector was called out to the demolition site on 6 August 2012 after receiving a complaint about the work being carried out by the firm. When she arrived, she saw most of the building above the second floor had already been demolished.

Two of the workers were standing close to the edge of the second floor where the wall had been removed, and were throwing waste to the ground below. They were seen clambering over rubble but no safety measures were in place to stop them falling if they tripped and lost their balance.

Total Demolition UK Ltd, of Maddock Street in Birkenhead, was fined £5,000 with £2,968 costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Jacqueline Western said: "When I arrived at the site, it was immediately obvious that workers were in danger of being seriously injured if they fell from the building.

"Two of the employees were throwing waste materials from the edge of the second floor so could easily have fallen if they had tripped over the rubble.

"The company installed a handrail around the open edge of the building after receiving the Prohibition Notice, but if that handrail had been in place at the time of my visit then lives would not have been put at risk."

Total Demolition UK declined to comment.

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