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Unsafe Building Site - Failure To Comply With HSE Puts Many Lives At Risk

Partially demolished building
1st October 2015

A builder has been found guilty of failing to comply with multiple health and safety rules, which put the lives of his own workers, subcontractors, neighbours and passers-by at risk.

Following a complaint about a possible asbestos disturbance at a high street property conversion, Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors visited the site and identified a number of issues including unsafe working at height, unsafe scaffolding, fire safety failings, unsafe electric supply, issues relating to asbestos, and a lack of welfare facilities and safety equipment.

During three site visits in just a six month period, the HSE inspectors found the numerous breaches in health and safety law were serious enough for three Prohibition Notices, four Improvement Notices and two Notifications of Contravention to be served in writing.

At the Magistrates’ Court, it was heard that, following the HSE site visits, some of the issues had been dealt with satisfactorily. But a failure to comply with two Improvement Notices over fire safety led HSE inspectors to issue Enforcement Notices, which are served when a serious risk needs to be better managed.

The building and project manager was charged with two counts of failing to comply with an Improvement Notice, one count of failing to provide adequate fire fighting and fire alarm equipment on site, and one count of failing to plan, manage and monitor construction work so that it was carried out in a safe manner.

Repeatedly ignoring the HSE Notices

The builder pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 13(2) and 41(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and two breaches of Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £8,000 with £4,802 costs.

Following the hearing, a HSE spokesman said the builder had “failed in his duty” to protect all those employed on the site, including visitors, from the risk of harm. By repeatedly ignoring the HSE Notices, he had “undoubtedly put the lives of his own workers and subcontractors at risk from fire, as well as the lives of his neighbours and passers-by”.

The inspectors had, “on a relatively small construction project”, identified a number of serious breaches over a very short period of time and it was “very fortunate that nobody was injured or even killed” while working on the site.