When David Darsey, managing director of Erith Contractors, came forward to receive the Contract of the Year under $1m award, he already knew the way to the stage.

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David Darsey (right) collects the Industrial Demolition award from National Demolition Association president Scott Knightly

At the start of the evening, Erith put down a marker for the rest of the night with first place in the Industrial Demolition category.

In what proved the most closely fought of any of the 11 main categories, the company just edged out DDM Demontage’s deconstruction of two cooling towers for Shell Oil in Germany to the honour. And for the only time in the 2017 Awards the judges felt it appropriate to give a Highly Commended to the Dutch contractor.

While the Contract of the Year award had showcased Erith’s expertise close to its south-east of England roots, the company’s Industrial entry had a more international flavour.

It took Erith to Ireland for the demolition of a bulk pharmaceutical manufacturing plant ahead of one of that country’s largest ever construction projects.

The project brought with it the challenge of safely disposing of more than 650 t of hazardous chemical and pharmaceutical waste. In addition, the plant that would replace the demolished structure was simultaneously being built on-site, requiring Erith to factor in the movements of around 2,000 staff and the risk of cross-contamination.

Its answer was the largest top-down demolition works ever seen in Ireland, with remote-controlled Brokk machines being used to maximise safety and reach into restricted areas.

For the project, Erith invested €150,000 (US$177,000) in personal protective equipment, respiratory protective equipment and training, and €25,000 ($30,000) in training.

By the end of the 131,000 man-hour project, there had been no lost time incidents and 96% of non-hazardous waste had been recycled.

Judging panel member John Woodward said: “The winners clearly demonstrated an excellent approach to proactive planning that removed the hurdles on the project to give them and the client a clear run to the project finish line.“

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