Director jailed over unplanned collapse…

Developer employed unskilled workers with no demolition experience.

A property developer has been jailed for eight months after the roof and part of the rear wall collapsed at one of his buildings during demolition work.

Manchester Crown Court was told that Riaz Ahmad had hired a group of workers, who had no experience in construction, to demolish a property in Oldham.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector visited the site on 11 August 2017 after it received a phone call from Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council’s building control department.

The inspector found almost all the internal walls and roof supports had been removed and served a prohibition notice on Ahmad preventing any further work and closed a major road that ran past the building.

On 12 August it was agreed that the property could not be accessed safely and the local authority obtained a demolition order. However, part of structure collapsed before the work could begin.

Emergency services were called to the site and they evacuated nearby buildings and cordoned off the area. The remaining structure was pulled down later that day.

A HSE investigation found the collapse could have been prevented had a principal contractor been appointed and a suitable risk assessment been carried out.

“These steps could have ensured the stability of the building during the demolition with regards to temporary works and control measures such as scaffolding,” the executive said.

Ahmad had not properly planned the work as he employed unskilled labourers and had neglected to consider the risks from work at height. He had failed to provide the workers with basic welfare facilities and had ignored several health hazards.

Ahmad was found guilty of breaching ss 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and reg 19(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. He was sentenced to eight months in prison for each offence (to run concurrently) and was ordered to pay costs of £65,000.

During his sentencing the judge said: “This was a very serious case indeed. It was nothing short of a miracle that only one person was injured. A clear statement has to be made to those who undertake significant projects such as this, namely that health and safety legislation has to be adhered to for good reason, and those who ignore its basic tenets will receive punishment.”