Builder jailed for three years after killing worker while on Chilworth demolition job

, ,
Demolition Goes Wrong

A builder has been jailed for more than three years after he killed one of his workers while demolition a garage.

Paramjit Singh, 48, of Iris Road in Southampton, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter following a two-week trial at Winchester Crown Court on October 2021.

He was sentenced on December 03rd to three years and three months in jail for the charge. He was also sentenced to 20 months in prison after admitting to breaching sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and his sentences will run concurrently.

The incident happened in Chilworth in 2019 when Singh had been hired to demolish Birchdene, on Ling Dale. At the time, Singh was the owner and manager of SAB builder and employed staff to work as “odd job men”.  The day before the incident took place Singh had demolished all but one side of the garage on the ground and then returned on July 16, 2019, to complete the job.

Singh arrived at around 9am to demolish the final wall before jumping into a digger and moving towards the wall.

However, when the wall was demolished Kulwant Singh Athwal, one of Singh’s workers, was standing on the other side and the structure collapsed on top of him.

Singh is understood not to have known where his team were when he began working with the digger.

A post mortem examination found that Mr Athwal died of his injuries, which were consistent with being crushed by a heavy object.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Gunson said:

“This was an extremely tragic case resulting in the completely avoidable death of Kulwant Singh Athwal.  It is a tragedy for all involved. We hope that lessons will be learned that prevent this from ever happening again.”

The court also heard how Singh’s public liability and CS card were expired after SAB Builders went bankrupt in 2015 and the company ceased trading.

HSE inspector James Lucas said: “All demolition work, however large or small, has the potential of serious risk if it is not properly planned and controlled.

“Paramjit Singh failed to prepare a written plan for the demolition of the building or any site-specific risk assessments. In this case, simple control measures and safe working practices, such as excluding people on site from danger zones with physical barriers, could have saved a life.

“There are no winners here. The victim, Kulwant Singh Atwal, so sadly lost his life because of the absence of basic safety measures. The perpetrator, Paramjit Singh, will spend time in prison and will always carry the heavy burden of having caused another person’s death.  HSE would like to encourage all small builders to ensure they know how to properly plan, manage and monitor all construction work they undertake. The HSE website provides a wealth of information, some of it translated into other languages.  In addition, HSE wants to stress to all workers from minority communities or anyone from any background who may feel vulnerable, that health and safety law is there for their protection, just as much as any other workers. HSE always focuses on making workplaces safer and healthier, whoever is at risk.”