The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Manage the Risk during Abandonment and Demolition

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Today's blog is about how not to manage risk when demolishing buildings.


Gunns Limited operated a saw mill in the south-west of WA, which included a large disused and unwanted work shed.

The shed was very large being about 10 meters high but almost 135 meters long and 25 meters wide.

Gunns Limited sought to demolish the shed and received several quotes from demolition contractors to perform the work.

At least one of the contractors highlighted to Gunns Ltd in their quote the requirement for the work to be undertaken under an appropriate demolition license.

In spite of that knowledge, Gunns chose to award the demolition contract to two unlicensed people who undertook to perform the demolition for free.

The Prosecution

The chosen contractors indicated that they would work for free but raise income by salvaging materials from the shed.

The demolishers were subsequently observed by a WorkSafe Inspector in the process of demolishing the shed.

Gunns Ltd was prosecuted by WorkSafe on the basis that they failed to ensure that the demolition was performed by a licence contractor.

They elected to plead guilty to the charge and were fined $10,000 with an additional $760 in court costs.

The lesson to learn here is to always ensure you pre-qualify and select competant contractors with the right HSE culture, right skill set for the work, and the correct licences where necessary.

Saving a few bucks early on is no excuse for dodgy practices and often ends in disaster.

There really is no such thing as a "free lunch".  Good Safety outcomes take effort and resources.

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