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Firm fined after worker seriously injured by falling guttering

18 February 2014

An Aberdeen-based demolition firm has been fined for safety failings after a worker was seriously injured by falling cast iron guttering.

Valentin Taljanov, 61, broke his right arm, seven ribs, and a vertebra; punctured his lung and cut his head in the incident at disused buildings at Aberdeen Harbour on 16 July 2009.

His employer, Lawrie [Demolition] Limited, was prosecuted on the 14th February after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Crown Office Health and Safety Division.

Peterhead Sheriff Court heard that Mr Taljanov, along with colleagues, was working in the vicinity of a substantial piece of cast iron guttering that had been left unsupported for two days at roof height during the demolition of old offices and warehousing at the former Craig Group Buildings at the harbour. Mr Taljanov was moving roofing materials from a platform onto the ground when the guttering gave way and struck him.

After the event one witness expressed surprise that the guttering had stayed up as long as it did.

The HSE investigation found that Lawrie [Demolition] Limited failed to put in place a suitable system to identify hazards that might arise as works progressed, and failed to adequately plan and implement exclusion zones in areas where materials could fall. Lawrie [Demolition] Limited, of Rigifa, Cove, Aberdeen, was fined £40,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 29 of The Construction [Design and Management] Regulations 2007. Following the case, HSE Inspector Liz Hunter, said: "This incident was wholly preventable by taking down the guttering in one go and it was probably only Mr Taljanov’s hard hat that prevented him from being killed.

"Lawrie (Demolition) Limited failed to review the constantly changing risks that are created during demolition work. Exclusion zones were not enforced to keep staff out of areas where materials could fall, despite there being two supervisors on site and regular site visits by management. I want demolition firms to learn from this incident. There is no room for complacency and regular risk reviews are essential for site safety.”

Lawrie [Demolition] Limited are part of the Leiths Group that operates quarries, road re-surfacing and plant hire companies in the north east of Scotland.

For more information about safe construction work visit: www.hse.gov.uk/construction/