Dig Deep for Shannon

On Tuesday last week, a young demolition worker – Shannon Brasier – was seriously injured on a demolition site here in the UK.

The circumstances surrounding that incident – frankly – are irrelevant right now. In fact, there are only two things that matter right now: Shannon making a full and speedy recovery; and providing some financial assistance to her family.

A GoFundMe page has already been established by Shannon’s friends and family – If you click on the DIG DEEP FOR SHANNON banner at the foot of the page, you will be taken directly to that page.

I realise that none of us is exactly rolling in cash right now following the COVID-19 lockdown. But demolition folk are famously generous. So if you can spare a few pounds, dollars or Euros, then please do so.

But there’s more. I am hosting our long-overdue BIG GIVEAWAY LiveStream at 6pm (UK time) on Wednesday this week. I am hoping to use that opportunity to raise more funds for this worthy and urgent cause.

If you’re near a computer or a mobile device on Wednesday, I hope you will join us for a mini-Telethon.

Finally – for now at least – DemolitionNews is donating the profits from all its book sales registered in the month of August 2020 to the fund. So if you buy a copy of My Dad Does Demolition, Renaissance: Why JCB is the Apple of the Digger World, or Demolition 2051 from Amazon between now and 31 August, the profits will go direct to the Shannon fund.

We can all worry about how the accident happened, employer insurances and health and safety investigations somewhere down the line. For now, there is a young girl fighting for her life and a distraught family in need.

So, as it says below: DIG DEEP FOR SHANNON.

Squibb gets Woolwich nod

Demolition at Morris Walk Estate kickstarts £220 million regeneration scheme.

Development partner Lovell has appointed specialist Squibb Group to carry out demolition of the old 1960s council blocks.

Soft stripping has started with hard demolition on the concrete frames and precast facades beginning later this month which will take around 12 months to complete.

The six-year regeneration project will transform this area into a vibrant mixed community of over 900 one, two, three and four bedroom homes comprising a mix of houses and apartment blocks.

Construction on the main build will look to start in Autumn 2021 but is dependent on a number of factors including securing full planning permission.

The Royal Borough of Greenwich appointed Lovell in 2013 as its development partner for the £398 million One Woolwich programme, which will see the company redevelop three older estates in the area.

Chris Wallace, Lovell Construction Director, said: “The demolition work is a very complex procedure which has to be carefully planned due to the height and layout of the estate, the vicinity of the rail lines and proximity of the local community.

“As usual, health and safety is our key priority and we will communicate to the local residents on a regular basis.”

Read more here.

Big names share Scottish spoils…

Scottish framework demonstrates local loyalty.

Twenty-three Scottish SMEs are set to benefit from an £18 million a year contract to offer demolition and deconstruction services to all local authorities and housing associations.

The Scotland Excel framework is the second-generation framework for demolition designed to help councils deliver planned demolitions and deconstruction as part of regeneration and improvement work. The improved framework, with sustainability at its core went live on 1 August and has been redesigned to include deconstruction. Viewed as more environmentally focused, materials from deconstruction are more likely to be reused in future construction projects.

Quick response to dangerous structures, including bridges or monuments with emergency demolitions or safeguarding with a three hour or less response time has also been built into the framework after detailed research and discussion with contracting authorities.

Twenty-five UK SME suppliers have been awarded onto the framework, with suppliers committed to recycling up to 95 percent of materials. The Scottish Government’s declared climate emergency was a key element when the redesign of the framework was taking place.

Every supplier on the framework pays the Real Living Wage, which was a significant consideration for Scotland Excel when evaluating the bids.

The framework will also help councils source planned demolitions via mini competitions that will allow them to drive competitive pricing and tailored work packages through the framework.

The new framework is also good for local business with 23 of the 25 based in Scotland. These include Central Demolition, Reigart and Safedem. (A full list can be found here)

“The renewal of our Demolition and Deconstruction Works contract comes at an important time for Scotland’s construction sector. Several of our members have indicated that affordable house building will be one of their priorities as we move out of Covid-19 lockdown and this framework will support them to clear vital land to build new vibrant communities. Our demolition contract is the only national framework of its kind to offer demolition and deconstruction services to all 32 councils. It will give them the tools to quickly and efficiently source work from specialist contractors that have gone through a detailed tender process. As well as securing the competitive rates – additional value can be driven through mini competitions for planned works that will ensure councils get competitive prices, quick turnaround, and tailored work packages to meet the specific needs of each scheduled demolition programme,” says Councillor John Shaw, Convener of Scotland Excel. “I welcome the renewal of this national framework. It will help Scottish councils get the best value for money when responding to emergency situations where dangerous buildings have to be demolished quickly, and in driving forward improvement programmes for communities where scheduled demolitions are needed. It will bring value for money, has sustainability at its core and is good for business.”

Comment – Preparing for the inevitable

Two incidents in quick succession underline the need for a dedicated demolition benevolent fund.

Two incidents, exactly one week apart. One man dead. One young lady critically hurt. Two families in despair. One industry linked directly to both incidents.

It is hard to look at the incident that critically injured Shannon Brasier on a site in Southend last week and the incident in Tottenham yesterday in which an as-yet-unnamed man was killed and retain any sense of pride in the demolition sector.

We refer to demolition companies and workers as professional when – once again – the evidence suggests that we are anything but.
Any hope that the sector might return from the COVID-19 lockdown with a renewed sense of safety have quickly dissipated as we find ourselves treading a familiar path to the hospital in one case and to the cemetery in the other.

A comment on LinkedIn today from a man who experienced the Didcot disaster first-hand is perhaps the most telling. He said, simply, “when will it end?”

There will be investigations of course. Long and so protracted that those of us not directly impacted will have forgotten the original incident long before any judgement is passed.

There will be sadness within the industry. But it is a sadness that is expressed with such frequency that it has lost all meaning. Tell your wife or your husband that you love them 15 times a day and – sooner or later – it stops being an expression of some deep connection and it just becomes something you say; a punctuation mark at the end of a conversation.

And then there’s the helplessness and the guilt shared between those that DID go home to their families last night and that WILL do so again tonight; that will continue to put food on the table for their loved ones.

Incidents and fatalities occur with such painful frequency within this sector that we each now know our roles. We know the appropriate thing to say on social media are “thoughts/prayers are with his/her family” and you know that because it’s only a few months, a few weeks or – in this case – a few days since you last wrote it.

Here in the journalistic hinterland, I default to sensitive mode. I avoid details of the nature of the accident and any injuries sustained. I release names only wen they’re in the public domain. I share details of any fundraising initiative that might be taking place, hoping that the wider demolition industry has not yet succumbed to charity fatigue and that they will dig deep – once again – for one of their own.

Then, when the dust has settled and the investigations are underway, we store away those feelings of sadness and frustration. We pack away our kind words and our thoughtful gestures. But we keep them close at hand because each of us knows that we’ll be needing them again soon. Too soon.

This past week, like so many weeks before it, has proven that incidents, accidents and fatalities cannot be legislated out of the industry. Likewise, it has proven they cannot be trained out of the sector either. And anyone suggesting that membership of a trade body might miraculously render a company impervious to accidents need only look at last year’s fatality statistics to recognise the sheer lunacy of such claims.

So, given the inevitability of injury and death on UK demolition sites, surely the time has come for the sector to have its own benevolent fund; a charitable trust set aside to provide immediate financial assistance to the families of those men and women maimed or killed in the name of demolition.

I am not offering to run it. I know my place. I am not a demolition man. I am merely a guy with a flimsy grasp of grammar, a vague understanding of punctuation, and the occasional nifty turn of phrase; a nifty turn of phrase that has earned me as many detractors and enemies as it has friends. But, in the absence of volunteers, I would take on the role. Not because I want it and certainly not because I am eyeing a medal or some national honour as a result. I would do it because the industry needs it.

Today, as I am writing this, there is a family somewhere grieving the loss of a loved one killed in a wholly avoidable building collapse in North London yesterday. There is a family in Essex that – due to the COVID-19 crisis – cannot be at the bedside of a 20-year old loved one as she fights for her life following an equally avoidable incident last week.

Those families should not be worrying about how they might buy groceries, pay the rent or keep the lights on. They have more than enough with which to contend.

Such a benevolent fund will not mend Shannon Brasier. It will not bring back the man killed on site in Tottenham yesterday.

But if it takes away just a tiny amount of worry and concern, then surely that is the least the industry can do to help its own.

Man killed in Tottenham collapse

A man died when a building partially collapsed during demolition, London Fire Brigade has said.

Firefighters were called after the collapse of a wall and reinforced concrete roof at a two-storey building which was being demolished in Tottenham, north London, on Tuesday afternoon.

A site worker was trapped under the rubble and was pronounced dead at the scene. It is not yet known which company was involved.

Search and rescue crews were working alongside the Health and Safety Executive and police officers to retrieve the body.

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: “Sadly a man has died following a building collapse on Vale Road in Tottenham.”

The spokesman added: “The brigade was called at 2.19pm and crews remain on scene.

“Four fire engines and three fire rescue units from Tottenham, Stoke Newington, Holloway, Edmonton, Battersea and East Ham fire stations are at the scene.”

It was Mee all along…

Demolition man found guilty of being head of burglary gang.

Members of a burglary gang – including a former director of Mees Demolition Group – which targeted the homes of the rich and famous have been jailed.

Thomas Mee – together John Barlow and Vincent Ball – was behind a string of break-ins across the county, targeting homes including those of Manchester City star Raheem Sterling, Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay and Bury FC owner Steve Dale.

Chester Crown court was told the “career criminals” used cloned number plates to try and stay one step ahead of the law as they travelled the country carrying out serious crimes.

A total of more than £550,000 of jewellery, watches and handbags was taken from 14 properties across Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire between November 2018 and October 2018.

Mee pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle and handling stolen goods. Judge Steven Everett told the court Mee was at the top of the gang, organising the break-ins and then selling on the stolen goods. He pointed to the £125,000 in cash that police found at Mee’s city centre apartment after his arrest last year.

Judge Everett said Mee was at the ‘top of the tree’ and played a key role in ‘getting rid of the assets.’ He also said that in his view Mee’s professed remorse was ‘manufactured’, and jailed him for eight years and seven months.

Read more here.

Bridge blown

Union Pacific Railroad demolished a portion of the Tempe Town Lake Train Bridge at 8:13 a.m. on August 2, 2020 to facilitate debris removal.

Once the area is clear, reconstruction will begin.

Demolition worker fights for life

Shannon Brasier struck by digger while at work in Essex.

A young demolition worker is fighting for life after she was hit in the head by a JCB while at work.

The Evening Standard is reporting that Shannon Brasier, 20, from Dagenham, has a brain injury, severe damage to her facial bones, a broken back and is currently in a coma on life support at the Royal London Hospital.

She was airlifted to hospital after being struck at a site in Southend-on-Sea on Tuesday afternoon.

Detectives are investigating and have arrested a 55-year-old man on suspicion of grievous bodily harm.

Essex Police said a 55-year old man was arrested and has since been released under investigation. A spokesman for Ace Demolition said the company was working with police and the Health and Safety Executive.

You can read the full story here. We also just broadcast a live video on our Facebook page to help direct viewers to a fundraising page that has been set up to help Shannon’s family. You can find that fundraising page here.

Business Briefing for July 2020

As parts of the country are plunged back into lockdown, the UK construction industry enjoyed an above average month for new contract awards to further confound industry analysts.

In this exclusive interview, we speak to Neil Edwards, CEO of market intelligence provider Builders Conference to find out more:

Demolition Technology 2020

Following the huge success of our Hillhead (almost) LIVE online exhibition, we are doing it all again. Only this time, the focus will be entirely on existing and emerging technologies that are shaping the future of the demolition sector.

The online event will take place at 6pm (UK time) on 24 September 2020 and it will look at a plethora of solutions ranging from automation and robotics to remote controls and telematics and much more besides.

The event is 100% FREE to viewers and visitors and it will be broadcast simultaneously here on DemolitionNews.com and across ALL our social media platforms.

So if you would like a glimpse of the future, be here at 6pm on 24 September 2020.