A Harrow-based building firm has been fined £8,000 after a botched demolition sent masonry crashing into the kitchen of a neighbouring property, narrowly missing an occupant who had just left the room.
Axis Build Ltd, of Drummond Drive, Stanmore, was sentenced for safety failings following the part collapse of a home it was demolishing in Adelaide Close, Stanmore, on 6th June 2013.
Westminster Magistrates were told that debris, including large slabs of brickwork from an end wall, fell on top of the next door property because the firm had failed to properly plan the demolition job to prevent part of the building collapsing in an uncontrolled manner.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the incident could have easily been avoided had Axis Build Ltd used competent people, such as a structural engineer, in the planning process.
The court was told although there had been no injuries, an occupant of the neighbouring house had been in the kitchen only moments before masonry had crashed through a skylight.
Axis Build Ltd, registered in Chesham, Bucks, was also ordered to pay £1,338 in costs after admitting breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations by failing to plan the demolition in such a way as to avoid danger, or reduce it to as low a level as possible.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jack Wilby said: “With this type of demolition, where an excavator eats into the building from one side to the other, there is likely to be a free-standing wall at one end that should be supported, particularly, where this wall is close to a boundary wall.
“The removal by Axis Build of parts of the building without supporting a remaining wall led to the uncontrolled collapse of that wall.
“This resulted in immediate danger to both the employees and other people – in this case the residents of the house next door.”
“The competence of those assessing the risks of the job was just not good enough. You need someone who understands the integrity of domestic buildings and how they are held together.
“The resulting clear-up operation put further lives at risk as workers went up on to a roof without adequate means to prevent them from falling from that roof.”