HSE prosecutes after public tip off for site safety failings

22nd December 2016

A construction company and its managing director have been prosecuted for operating an unsafe site during the conversion of a building in Bollington.

Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard how the conditions on the site, where a former pub was being changed into two houses, were so poor it prompted a member of public to complain to the local authority.  The HSE inspected the site and had to stop all the work on the building as the conditions were so dangerous and putting workers lives at immediate risk.

In total three prohibition notices and two improvements notices for safety failings including work at height issues, missing floorings with no protection, insufficiently supported walls and health failings including the provision of welfare facilities with running water.

The HSE investigation found that both the company and its director did not put in place effective health and safety management at the start of the conversion.

The directors of the company were responsible for ensuring the health and safety of their employees and those that are affected by their activities. On projects, such as these one or more competent persons must be appointed to implement the measures needed to comply with health and safety law.

Failure to seek the necessary health and safety advise could and in this case, has led to fines, in more serious cases negligence like this could lead to imprisonment.

Due to the company failing to notify HSE of the project, appoint a competent principal contractor or ensure they had suitable and sufficient measures to reduce risks to workers and members of the public the company, Bluefig Development Ltd, of Dale Street, Manchester pleaded guilty to CDM breaches and was fined £42,900 with £3,781.24 costs.

Company Director Faris Mousa pleaded guilty to two safety charges and was fined £40,000 with £3,658.24 costs.

HSE inspector Deborah Walker said after the hearing:

“Bluefig Development Ltd and Mr Faris Mousa completely failed in their duties to protect the workers or members of the public from harm.  This was an extremely dangerous site and it is only luck that nobody was injured or even killed.

Chris Chapman, Technical Manager at the Building Safety Group said:

“Anyone involved in construction, no matter what size of site or project has to take the health, safety and welfare of their workers seriously. It is essential to seek competent H&S advice when embarking on a project.  It is not surprising that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has made a commitment to continuing with site blitzes in 2017. It also explains why the HSE is encouraging companies to work in partnership with organisations like the Building Safety Group (BSG) to help improve health & safety standards in the construction sector.”

A safer working environment is better for everyone including those with an eye on company profits. Not only are the prescribed fines for breach a real deterrent, but employees can pursue a claim in a tribunal if they think that their employer has not provided them with a safe place of work. Despite a reduced number of inspectors enforcing the rules, recalcitrant employers are vulnerable in constructive dismissal claims for breach of the fundamental breach of contract.

Construction Enquirer