Demolition boss fined £20,000 after accident paralysed worker

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A DEMOLITION boss has been fined tens-of-thousands-of-pounds after a worker was paralysed when he fell from the roof of a pub.

The 67-year-old injured man was working for David Brian Riseborough, trading as The North Eastern Demolition Company, when the incident happened two years ago.

Mr Riseborough’s firm was demolishing a pub in Coxgreen Road and had chosen to remove the slates and timbers of the pitched roof by hand. A mobile access platform was used for the workers and to act as a barrier to prevent falls from the roof edge.

However, as the platform did not cover the whole length of the roof, Health and Safety bosses say Mr Riseborough should have implemented additional controls to provide a safe system of work.

At a hearing at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court yesterday, the HSE claimed many of these controls were lacking, or where provided, not effective.

While working on the roof, the worker, who asked not to be identified, fell two-storeys, about 18-20 feet to the ground.

He suffered serious injuries including several fractures to three vertebrae, his right elbow and both bones of his lower right leg.

He also suffered a dislocated right hip and his right lung collapsed.

As a result of the injuries to his spine, he was left severely paralysed and now requires permanent care in a nursing home.

Keith Partington, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), told magistrates it was unnecessary for any work at height to be carried out at all, as the demolition could have been done using a 360 degree mechanical excavator that was on site.

HSE’s investigation also found the way in which the work was carried out was unsafe as the instruction and supervision of the employees was not suitable and sufficient.

Riseborough, of Willow Green, Ashbrooke, Sunderland was fined a total of £20,000 – £10,000 on each charge – and ordered to pay £7,434 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 6(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Keith Partington, said: “The building could have been safely demolished by remote mechanical means using the excavator that was on the site – without the risks to the public, which the defendant claimed was the reason for manually dismantling the roof.

“In choosing to undertake the work at height the system the defendant used was not sufficiently robust enough to prevent one of his employees falling from the roof level to the ground which resulted in injuries that have left this worker in a condition whereby he now needs permanent care to assist him in his daily living.”

Twitter: @jane thejourno