Thomas Vale and CMR Demolitions fined for regulations breaches


Two firms have been fined for regulations breaches after a six-tonne classroom roof collapsed on a worker, breaking his shoulder bone and nose and shattering several of his teeth.

Thomas Vale Construction was fined £6,600 and ordered to pay £6,117 in costs, while CMR Demolitions was fined £9,900 and ordered to pay £6,117 in costs.

A temporary support failed during the demolition of timber-framed classrooms in Stoke-on-Trent, causing the man’s injuries.

The injured man, who does not wish to be named, was knocked unconscious and also suffered fractured ribs and swelling to his head.

Two other workers were caught under the collapsed building but managed to free themselves and were uninjured.

CMR Demolitions breached health and safety regulations and both firms breached CDM regulations.

The incident happened on 11 November 2011. An HSE investigation found extensive soft-stripping of the walls by sub-contractor CMR Demolitions had significantly reduced their load-bearing capacity. A combination of having no support in place to hold up the roof, and strong winds, resulted in the collapse.

CMR Demolitions did not obtain information on how the timber-framed classrooms had been originally constructed and did not seek the opinion of a structural engineer during the work.

The building had been left in a stripped state overnight but no check was made on the structure before workers entered it the next day. Rotting timbers within the base of the timber frame were not spotted and addressed.

The classroom could have been mechanically pushed over without putting any staff at risk.

Principal contractor Thomas Vale Construction failed to ensure that CMR Demolitions had provided a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the soft strip and demolition work of the classroom. It also failed to manage and monitor this demolition activity of CMR Demolitions or ensure they had consulted a structural expert.

Thomas Vale also failed to require a less dangerous approach to the demolition work.

HSE inspector Andrew Bowker said: “CMR Demolitions Ltd made serious errors and the collapse occurred through a lack of planning and understanding of the structural stability of the classrooms.

“The company allowed their staff to work in extremely dangerous conditions. Had they employed a structural engineer this incident could have been avoided.

“As a result of these failures, a worker was seriously injured. The implications of a six-tonne, timber-framed roof collapsing onto people are obvious to all and this incident could easily have resulted in multiple fatalities.

“Thomas Vale Construction PLC failed to plan, manage and monitor the demolition work on the classrooms so it was carried out without risks to health or safety.

“The firm did not sufficiently challenge CMR Demolitions Ltd on their classroom work methods and were complicit in the method of work that took place.”