On March 16th there was an explosion at a Highgate building site that resulted in the death of Stephen Hampton, a member of the team redeveloping the site. Mr Hampton was taken to hospital but died later from his injuries. As a result of the accident, the Health and Safety Executive has prevented further work from being carried out at the site by issuing all the contractors concerned with prohibition notices.
P J Labour, the company for which Mr Hampton worked, was engaged in the redevelopment of a single storey shopping parade, built in the 1930s. Other contractors were also involved in the project. The parade once housed independent businesses, and after a planning battle lasting ten years, permission had been granted to transform it into a block of eight new shops and twelve houses. The existing buildings were being demolished and the land prepared for the new construction when the explosion occurred. It is thought to be the result of tank decommissioning when a disused underground fuel tank was being cut up prior to removal.
The Health and Safety Executive
The Health and Safety Executive, working with the Metropolitan Police, has served prohibition notices preventing contractors from undertaking any further work on the site until they have been complied with. The details have not been made public and it is not known whether they are directly related to the tragedy or to other aspects of the work.
When there has been a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act, notices are issued. The contractors concerned have 21 days to appeal, and work on the site cannot recommence at present.
According to the BBC, locals reported that the explosion sounded like a bomb. Another witness said that it sounded like a wall collapsing. The London Air Ambulance and other emergency services attended the incident in Highgate, and Mr Hampton was taken to hospital but died of his injuries.
There are different methods of tank decommissioning that can be used in situations like this. They can either be removed completely or filled with inert foam. Specialist companies such as http://www.ashremediation.co.uk/tank-decommissioning/ can be consulted to ensure that the best course of action is undertaken.
Many tributes have been paid to Mr Hampton, who commuted to the site from his home in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.