A construction worker was seriously injured after safety failings by his employer led to cast iron guttering falling on top of him.

Valentin Taljan, 61, broke his right arm, seven ribs, 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 after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was a failure to put in place a suitable system to identify hazards that might arise as works progressed, and a failure to adequately plan and implement exclusion zones in areas where materials could fall.

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.

Lawrie (Demolition) Limited, of Rigifa, Cove, Aberdeen, was fined £40,000 after pleading guilty to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations SI 2007/320.

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.”

For more information, see:

  • L144 – Managing health and safety in construction;
  • HSG150 – Health and safety in construction;
  • INDG411 – Want construction work done safely?