An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive has led to a Manchester-based property developer being sentenced to eight months imprisonment for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

Mr Ahmad appointed a group of workers with no experience to carry out demolition work at a property in Oldham.  When the HSE visited the site in August 2017 they found that almost all of the internal walls and supports of the roof had been removed.  The HSE immediately issued a prohibition notice stopping Mr Ahmad from carrying out any further work on the site and closed a major road adjacent to the building. 

Oldham MBC obtained an order to demolish the building because there was no safe way to access it but soon after the roof and wall collapsed.  This triggered an emergency response which included evacuating other properties resulting in significant disruption to local businesses.  The remainder of the building was demolished by the council later that day.

Mr Ahmad was found guilty of breaching s.2(1) and s.3(1) of the Health and safety at Work Act 1974 (relating to the safety of his workers) and Regulation 19(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (relating to the unsafe demolition) with the judge commenting that 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’. 

Demolition may be thought of as low-skilled work but it is still essential to appoint the right people to do the job and sensibly plan the work so that the risks are managed from start to finish.  These issues need to be considered from the start of the procurement process and it is important to then reflect the responsibilities in the contractual arrangements.  However, don’t forget that a developer does not avoid responsibility for health and safety simply by appointing a contractor to carry out the works.

If you require advice on your health and safety responsibilities in relation to a development project or how to address them in your contracts please call us on 0161 941 4000 and ask for the Construction team or email lawyers@myerson.co.uk.

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