Walden Builders Ltd was demolishing an outbuilding near Ripon

Leeds magistrates heard how events went wrong on 18th September 2018 when Walden Builders Ltd was demolishing an outbuilding in Littlethorpe, Ripon.

During the demolition, the excavator being used struck a wall containing a 415v power cable, causing it to arc and ignite a fire.

Efforts to put out the fire included holding up a sheet of tin to shield the surroundings. But the hot metal sheet dropped onto an operative who was working on the site, burning his scalp, arm and hands.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had received a quote from Northern Power Grid for installation of new service termination equipment. The company failed to act on the quote or instruct the power company to terminate supply to the building.

Walden Builders Ltd of Green Croft, Pottery Lane, Littlethorpe, Ripon pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £42,000 and ordered to pay £4,707 in costs.

HSE inspector Paul Thompson said after the hearing: “The company should have ensured that there was no live power to the building prior to the start of demolition work. The company had failed to prepare a written plan for the demolition of the building or any site-specific risk assessments.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.”

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