School demolition firm fined for injury

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A DEMOLITION firm has been fined for causing devastating injuries to a workman when a South Yorkshire school was pulled down two-and-a-half years ago.

The incident during the demolition of the closed-down Rossington High School left Gareth Dodds severely injured when he was knocked over by a swinging girder, Doncaster Crown Court was told.

Mr Dodds, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, was working on the school demolition site when he was hit on the head by a 20-metre steel girder being moved by a hydraulic excavator in November 2008.

The Health and Safety Executive brought the prosecution against Mr Dodds’ West Yorkshire employers, James Hudson Demolition Ltd, after investigating the incident.

The court was told that on the day of the incident, Mr Dodds, then 28, was one of four workers on site at what has since become the All Saints’ School in Bond Street, Rossington.

Demolition of a building had been under way for some time which involved the men working close to the excavators, moving materials around.

Employees were sorting materials on the site and there were no safeguards in place to keep them a safe distance from the machines and their loads.

As a result, Mr Dodds was hit by the girder as it was being moved.

He suffered extensive head injuries and fractured vertebrae.

More than two years after the incident he is still suffering the effects of his life-changing injuries, the court was told by the prosecution.

James Hudson Demolition Ltd of Browside Farm, Medley Lane, Northowram, Halifax, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Yesterday the company was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs by Judge Jacqueline Davies.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Rob Cooper said: “This appalling incident could have very easily been avoided had proper thought and planning been put in place.

“Because of this lack of care, Mr Dodds was unwittingly in an area he should not have been in.

“Sadly he suffered terrible injuries as a result, but he could have lost his life.

“We hope this prosecution serves as a reminder to all employers that they have a duty to protect their workers at all times.”