Work at height failings continue for poorly managed construction firm

Outsource Safety Ltd BlogWork at height failings continue for poorly managed construction firm
July 30, 2013 Posted by Richard Churchill

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Let’s be honest, most people feel that health and safety has become something of a burden and that less regulation or self regulation could be a workable solution seeing the end of HSE.  You might also argue that housebuilding is one area where regulation is strict and the standards are consistently high.

What you don’t realise is that not all companies are equal and that HSE deal with a number of businesses every day which wouldn’t think twice about working in a way in which you just wouldn’t.  If you don’t believe me then please read on…

A company and its director have been fined again for serious failings on safety and, in particular, work at height.

Two separate incidents led to the latest prosecution which concerned a new build housing site in South Wales.  Blackburn based Paddle Ltd was building homes over several years as part of a phased development at Cae Canol near Port Talbot.  The first incident involved a self-employed bricklayer, Daniel King, falling from a four metre high scaffold at the site.

Surprisingly, the victim was the person to report this to HSE and the subsequent investigation found that the scaffold was in poor condition missing guard rails, toe boards and other fall protection measures.  In addition it was being used to store loads of bricks and blocks that it was not fit to carry.

Six months later in March 2012 another contractor was seen working at height in  the elevated bucket of an excavator.  To make matters worse this was in clear view of the company’s sole Director Mr Derek Hugh Barnes.  This time the incident was reported to HSE by a concerned householder at the site.

Swansea Crown Court heard that Paddle Ltd has a lengthy history of HSE enforcement action and had received several Prohibition Notices relating to unsafe work at height. It had also been prosecuted in 2010 over failings at a site in St Athan.

On 19 July, Paddle Ltd was fined a total of £56,000 and ordered to pay £11,000 costs after pleading guilty to breaching reg.4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and section 3(1) of the HSWA 1974.  Barnes pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 37 of the HSWA 1974 and was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and disqualified from acting as a company director for three years. In addition, he was fined £32,000 plus £11,000 in costs. He resigned his post leading up to the trial and the company has since put two new directors in place.

HSE inspector Phil Nicolle said:

“Paddle Ltd and Derek Barnes, have, over the years, shown a blatant disregard for health and safety management on their construction sites, as was clearly evident when we investigated the Baglan incidents.

Companies and directors have clear duties of care and safety responsibilities, and it is vital they properly assess, manage and supervise all work activity to mitigate risks at all times.”

If you know a business that would benefit from better safety management or you feel you need to make a shift in the safety culture within your own business then please give us a call.  Our consultants have all had real world experience and many are now working in safety because of what they have seen and personally experienced.  Talk to someone who knows construction, not just safety, call 01453 800100 or use the contact us links at the top of this page and we’ll call you.

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