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‘Disturbing irony’: cladding remediator fined after ACM left on balconies

A facade specialist has been fined £240,000 after leaving combustible cladding that it was removing from a building on residents’ balconies.

According to a statement from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the incident took place at the eight-storey The Circle apartment block in central Liverpool, where Green Facades was undertaking remediation work.

People were living inside the building as workers took off aluminium composite material (ACM) panels and combustible insulation material.

An HSE inspector visited the site in January 2022 and found that, in preparation for the removal work, combustible material had been left exposed. There was also inadequate means of escaping from the scaffold that was being erected, the statement said.

When the inspector returned 11 days later, more material had been exposed without any protection from potential sources of ignition being put in place, and combustible material was found lying on balconies.

The contractor had already been subject to HSE enforcement for similar breaches during cladding removal at a site in London, the safety watchdog said.

At Liverpool Magistrates’ Court. Green Facades Ltd, of Woolwich Road, south London, pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 11(1) and 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

It was fined £240,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,405

After the hearing, HSE inspector Jackie Western said: “The disturbing irony of this case is that work to protect residents from fire risk ended up making the situation more dangerous.

“This prosecution highlights the need for responsible management of the removal of cladding. The potentially tragic consequences of fire involving this type of material are well known following the Grenfell Tower fire.”

She added: “Despite earlier interventions and advice from HSE, and the availability of a wealth of guidance from HSE and others, this company continued to fail in its duty to address the risk of fire, putting people’s lives at risk.”

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