Selliah Sivguru Sivaneswaran of Harlyn Drive, Pinner pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 13(1) and 4(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) following the demolition of the old flats at 60 Pitcairn Road, Mitcham and was fined £200,000.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that a member of the public raised concerns about the conditions at the site.
Mr Sivaneswaran – who was the owner of the property – failed to make appropriate appointments for the development project.
The site had been inspected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in October 2016 and the work was halted due to workers being exposed to a range of risks including exposure to asbestos, falling from height, and fire.
The HSE revisited the site in January 2017 and found that work had restarted while the site was still unsafe, despite enforcement notices being served and advice being provided.
It was found that the demolition continued to be carried out by hand with workers climbing onto the unguarded roof and throwing debris down.
The HSE said that workers were at risk of falling up to four metres through holes in the floors and a partly demolished staircase while there were no welfare facilities.
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The court heard that two days before the sentencing hearing, the HSE had to return to the site and take further action.
“Mr. Sivaneswaran was a commercial client as he was carrying out work as part of a business,” said Andrew Verrall-Withers, inspector for HSE.
“When he failed to appoint a principal contractor, their duties fell on him.”
The project involved the demolition of the old flats and the construction of four one-bedroom flats and two two-bedroom flats on a site bought for £115,000 in 2001.
The court was told that despite the foreseeably large financial return from the project, Mr Sivaneswaran put profit before safety and paid cash in hand to untrained workers and did not engage a site manager as well as not providing any of the legally-required site documentation.
“Thanks to a member of the public reporting the dangerous conditions, HSE was able to take action,” added Andrew.
“It was just good fortune that no one had been killed at the site.”
“Instead of taking the support and advice provided by HSE, Mr. Sivaneswaran continued to let the workers operate in appalling conditions where they were at risk of being killed.
“He did not even provide them with a WC or washing facilities.”
On top of the fine, Mr Sivaneswaran was ordered to pay £1,421.20 in costs.