CDM Principal Designer avoid HSE enforcement under CDM 2015

You might well find the following report of interest if you’re in construction, particularly if you’re CDM Principal Designer.  For those of you living in the South-west you might be interested to know that Bristol came second in the list for most enforcement notices issued under CDM 2015 (just behind Hammersmith in London)!

We’ve just had a full year of CDM 2015 and the conversations regarding client and designers and their specific role in the new regulations are ongoing.  Coupled to this HSE now have a specialist team visiting designers (architects and similar) to ensure that the message of CDM 2015 and its specific requirements related to the assessment of risk at the design stage are fully implemented by the CDM Principal Designer.

CDM Principal Designer: Take a look at the report below

MPW R&R Ltd CDM Principal Designer avoid enforcement

If you’d like a quick summary please read on below;

  • total number of enforcement notices issued to the construction sector related to CDM 2015: 3155
  • of this number the total of prohibition notices issue: 1793
  • of this number the total of improvement notices issued: 1362
  • number of regulatory breaches these notices listed: 7993
  • Most breached regulation: HASWA: 3391
  • Second most breached regulation: Work at Height: 1790
  • Third most breached regulation: CDM 2015: 1669

Interestingly, there were 99 potential breaches of Client duties under CDM but only 5 potential breaches of duty by Principal Designers and just 2 potential breaches by Designers.

An accurate depiction of the real state of the CDM 2015 Regulations?  We’ll leave you to decide…

Posted by Roger Hart

Q: What happens when HSE injures one of its own staff? A: Errr, not a lot…

With fines rising by orders of magnitude and custodial sentences being handed in more cases that ever before all businesses are feeling more exposed to risk from not managing safety effectively.  They are also conscious that with uncertainty, rising costs and tough marketing places they need to balance cost against benefit wisely to remain competitive in a global marketplace.  So what happens when HSE injures one of its own staff?

The advent of the Fee for Intervention scheme (FFI), the closure of the HSE Helpline plus rises in prosecutions and fines have all served to create a greater distance between business and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Because of this you might wonder what happens to the people who enforce health and safety law when their own procedures, risk assessments and safety systems of work fall far below the standards expected.

The answer?  Not a great deal. No fines (no point fining another government body). No hearings or court cases (this is another department of the Crown after all). No risk of personal prosecution and no possibility of a company being driven out of business through a combination of fines and bad publicity.

What actually happens is a Crown Censure (a situation where, but for Crown immunity from prosecution, would have led to a realistic prospect of conviction).  The department accepts it was wrong and regrets the actions which led to the incident which should have been prevented.  Quite a contrast to those of us working in the private sector…. read on below for more details of what actually happened.

HSE injures worker through hydrogen release which ignited at test laboratory in Buxton (source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2017/hse-issued-with-crown-censure-over-worker-injury/)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has accepted a Crown Censure after a worker at its laboratory was injured when conducting an experiment at a testing facility.

On 4 October 2016 a worker at HSE’s Laboratory in Buxton suffered serious burns while setting up an experimental hydrogen test rig. He has since returned to work.

The incident happened when a prototype hydrogen storage vessel was being tested to determine if the design would be suitable for its intended use. While filling the vessel a connector failed and a quantity of hydrogen escaped under pressure. The hydrogen ignited and the HSE employee who was close to the vessel was injured.

HM Inspectors of Health and Safety investigated the incident and served a Crown Improvement Notice requiring HSE to provide a system of work for proof testing and leak testing an assembled hydrogen line and test tank to ensure, so far as is reasonable, the safety of employees and other people in the vicinity. HSE complied with the Notice.

The investigation by HM Inspectors concluded that the pressure testing went wrong because of failings to assess, plan, manage and control a well-known risk of death or serious injury.

The investigation team found the incident could have been prevented by putting in place recognised control measures available in longstanding published guidance.

Director of field operations, Samantha Peace said: “The Act is not intended to stop people from doing work that may be inherently dangerous, such as pressure testing. It is about ensuring that where work involves danger then this is reduced as much as it properly can be.

“In this case, HSE bear this responsibility as an employer. They fell below the required standard and as the failings exposed workers to the risk of death or serious injury, a Crown Censure is the right course of action. HSE has co-operated fully with the investigation and we are satisfied that action has been taken to put matters right.”

Richard Judge said “As chief executive of HSE, and on behalf of my colleagues on the Management Board and the HSE Board, I very much regret this incident happened, and especially that our colleague was injured. On this occasion, we did not meet the standards we expect of others and that is deeply disappointing. HSE accepts the Crown Censure.

“We took early action to resolve the immediate issues identified by the regulatory and internal investigations. In line with our spirit of continuous improvement, we are using the findings from the investigations as an opportunity to learn and to do significantly better.”

By accepting the Crown Censure, HSE admitted to breaching its duty under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in that it exposed employees to risks to their health, safety and welfare.

As a Government body, HSE cannot face prosecution in the same way as private or commercial organisations and a Crown Censure is the maximum sanction a government body can receive. There is no financial penalty associated with Crown Censure, but once accepted is an official record of a failing to meet the standards set out in law.

Posted by Roger Hart

The clients duties under CDM 2015 – are you complying?

We’ve now had the first full calendar year of the updated CDM Regulations in place with some very big changes in terms of Clients duties.  Some things have changed and designers, architects in the main, have begun to feel the pinch of the regulations.  Contractors seem happy to proceed largely on the same basis as they were and are, by and large, relatively unaffected by the changes if they were used to CDM under the earlier regulations.

One area which has felt the pinch is the smaller contractor and the contractors and designers completing domestic projects such as new house builds for wealthy clients.  There are some surprisingly large practices and contractors serving wealthy clients in the Cotswolds, Home Counties and similar spots who spend a significant sum on their new build homes / renovations.  Up until the 2015 changes in CDM all of these projects fell outside of the scope of CDM and so there has been a steep learning curve for this part of the construction sector.

A second change which has hit all clients and is part of the CDM risk management process is the greater focus on health.  Issues such as vibration and respirable crystalline silica have been known of for many years but contractors at all levels are really feeling the focus both from the supply chain and from HSE in terms of enforcement on these health related issues.

The missing link so far from our perspective are clients.  We have seen some prosecutions but clients are hard for HSE to reach and often quite unaware of their duties under CDM 2015. The key distinction here is between commercial and domestic clients but we’re going to assume (being a business and talking in this blog to our clients) that you’re a commercial client.

That being said, did you know? [source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm/2015/commercial-clients.htm]

For all projects, commercial CDM clients duties are to:

  • make suitable arrangements for managing their project, enabling those carrying it out to manage health and safety risks in a proportionate way. These arrangements include:
    • appointing the contractors and designers to the project (including the principal designer and principal contractor on projects involving more than one contractor) while making sure they have the skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability
    • allowing sufficient time and resources for each stage of the project
    • making sure that any principal designer and principal contractor appointed carry out their duties in managing the project
    • making sure suitable welfare facilities are provided for the duration of the construction work
  • maintain and review the management arrangements for the duration of the project
  • provide pre-construction information to every designer and contractor either bidding for the work or already appointed to the project
  • ensure that the principal contractor or contractor (for single contractor projects) prepares a construction phase plan before that phase begins
  • ensure that the principal designer prepares a health and safety file for the project and that it is revised as necessary and made available to anyone who needs it for subsequent work at the site

For notifiable projects (where planned construction work will last longer than 30 working days and involves more than 20 workers at any one time; or where the work exceeds 500 individual worker days), commercial clients must:

Posted by Roger Hart

HSE publishes their sector plans for 2018

The Health and Safety Executive has published its sector plans for the next 3-5 years following the draft it issued in March 2017.

This earlier document saw HSE split the areas under its remit into 19 different sections rather than the, until now, traditional two sectors  Interestingly, manufacturing has been given a ‘must try harder’ rating after it was found that around 3% of workers are injured annually, somewhat higher than the all-industry rate.  You can find more information on the HSE Sector Plans page here; http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/strategiesandplans/sector-plans/index.htm

The key approach which HSE intends to adopt is;

  • working with others, using our expertise for the wider good of workers, businesses (especially SMEs) and government;
  • championing the need for prevention;
  • focusing our inspection and enforcement activity where it can have the most effect.

How HSE intends to integrate this with the current FFI policy remains to be seen but if you can engage with HSE on initiatives we’d encourage you to do so wherever possible.

Occupational health will continue to play a key role in risk management and is very likely to be a key area of concern for any visit to site, in particular consider within your business the following three areas which have been marked for further assessment when conducting visits;

  • Occupational lung disease (exposure to dusts / RCS, COPD, work related asthma);
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (think manual handling but also consider general ergonomics);
  • Work related stress and mental health issues (use the HSE stress tool and see their website for more guidance).

One further area which was highlighted during the consultation process has been the large increase in volunteer activities and how the scope of this work has widened with many volunteers now carrying out tasks which are far more exposed to risk than has been the case.

The six key sectors which HSE intends to target are;

  1. agriculture;
  2. construction;
  3. transport and logistics;
  4. manufacturing;
  5. waste and recycling;
  6. public services.
Posted by Roger Hart

Bristol Construction firm receives £145,000 fine without an incident occurring

This recent case involving a Bristol construction firm highlights two common misconceptions;

  1. You have to have an accident to get prosecuted and fined by the HSE;
  2. Most inspections come through random HSE visits.

This case disproves both of these assumptions.  Firstly, the case was prosecuted based on the risk of the breach rather than based on any accident or incident which occurred.  Secondly, the visit was prompted by the concerns of a member of the public communicated to HSE through their website which can be accessed here; HSE: raise a concern

Bristol construction firm Ikon Construction fined

Ikon construction had received previous warnings relating to the correct planning and management of construction work but these had not been acted upon.  The fine related to risk without injury during the construction of nine timber framed town houses and resulted in a significant fine of £145,000 plus £2191.20 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Kate Leftly said:

“By failing to comply with the law, Ikon Construction endangered the lives of workers at the site, and neighbouring residents of the complex being developed.

Thankfully, a complaint was made by the public which we acted on very quickly and subsequently thoroughly investigated.”

If you need help, advice and support on any aspect of construction site safety or application of the CDM Regulations as a Designer, Contractor or Principal Contractor please contact us using the links above and below to see how we can help.

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Posted by Roger Hart

Failings in formwork safety leads to further injuries and fines

Formwork safety continues to be an area in which many sites could improve.  There are a range of courses out there which give useful qualification and skills in the management of formwork and falsework risk.  A good example of this would be the Temporary Works Supervisor Training Course (TWSTC) available from CITB.  For more information on this course see this link; TWSTC

Erector fell 3m after access scaffold board failed under load (formwork safety)

Sager Construction Limited (SCL) and Shaun Dixon Services Ltd (SDSL) have been fined when an employee fell more than 3m when a scaffold board he was standing on failed.

Southwark Crown Court heard SCL had been appointed Principal Contractor under the CDM 2007 Regulations for the construction of a shopping centre and residential units.

On the 19 February 2015 the 64-year old employee of formwork contractor SDSL was installing a primary beam in the basement when he fell from the top of the work platform.  He  suffered fractures to both of his feet and deep cuts to his head and arms as a result.

Dangerous boards and poor working practices

On investigation the Health and Safety Executive found that operatives worked from boards which were in a poor condition. It was also revealed that particularly poor practices took place in relation to work at height

Sager Construction Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £34,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,577.

Shaun Dixon Services Ltd was also found guilty of breaching Regulation 13 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 at an earlier date.

The company has since entered liquidation but was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,119.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said:

“The worker is lucky to have not sustained more serious injuries as a result of this fall from height.

It is entirely foreseeable that accidents will occur where work at height is being carried out without suitable work platforms and other measures to prevent workers from falling.

HSE will take action to ensure that duty holders are held to account for any failings.”

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Posted by Roger Hart

Public Tip Off leads to Prosecution and £52,000 fine

HSE often attends sites which have been reported as dangerous by members of the public.  In fact, we hear of these visits quite regularly and they can be as a result of genuine concerns or perhaps as a result of noise, dust and other disturbances causes nuisance to neighbours.

The case below relates to a North London site at which safety management and edge protection were sadly lacking.  Malik Contractors and Engineers Ltd were fined a total of £52,000  plus £4,415 costs after pleading guilty under Reg 13(1) of The Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015.

In response to concerns from members of the public HSE carried out three separate inspections and each time found numerous breaches of health and safety legislation. These included electrical systems, unsafe work at height and no fire detection of fire fighting equipment despite workers sleeping on site.

HSE inspector David King commented:

“This case highlights the importance complying with enforcement action. Duty holders have the responsibility to provide their workers with appropriate training and equipment so they can work safely. In this case Malik Contractors failed to do so.

It is essential those responsible for construction work understand they are also responsible for the health and safety of those on and around the construction site, and ensure

suitable and sufficient arrangements are in place to plan.”

Guidance on protecting the public from construction risks

The project client should provide information about:

  • boundaries
  • adjacent land usage
  • access; and
  • measures to exclude unauthorized persons

This will influence the measures contractors take.

Key issues are:

  • Managing site access
  • Hazards causing risk to the public
  • Vulnerable groups

Check out the HSE guidance page for more information on public safety with construction sites and contact us on 01453 800100 if you need help and advice on protecting the public at your construction site.

Posted by Roger Hart

Site Managers negligence leads to death of person passing construction site

Many construction site managers may remember hearing a statistic being talked about on past training courses that one person a month dies just walking past a  construction site, it often forms part of the CITB Site Managers Safety Training Course

This statistic has been brought tragically to life by an accident which occurred in Hanover Square London on August 2012 when 3 large unglazed windows weighing 655kg fell  to the pavement killing Amanda Telfer.

Site Managers negligence leads to HSE Fine

The frames had been delivered the previous day in line with the schedule but could not be fitted that day due to other programme delays.  The frames were left on the pavement overnight leaning against the building.  No effort was made to secure the frames and no barrier was placed around them.

As Ms Telfer walked past it is believed that a gust of wind blew a door on the building open, hitting the frames and causing them to topple, crushing Ms Telfer.

Several members of the public worked to remove the frames from her but she was unconscious and not breathing she later died as a result of her injuries.

Mr Damian Lakin-Hall (one of the men prosecuted) told officers at the scene that the frames had been secured with a ratchet strap but evidence showed that this had never been the case.

The following were convicted for offences arising from the death of Ms Telfer:

  • Kelvin Adsett – of New Road, Slough, Berkshire was convicted at the Old Bailey on Thursday, 23 March, of manslaughter by gross negligence and offences contrary to Section 7a of the Health and Safety at Work Act. Mr Adsett was the on-site construction site manager for IS Europe Ltd.
  • Damian Lakin-Hall – of Portsmouth Road, Cobham, Surrey was convicted of offences contrary to Section 7a of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was acquitted of manslaughter.
  • IS Europe Ltd – of Slough, Berkshire  was convicted of offences under Section 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Chalmers said:

“The individuals and company who were convicted in this tragic case had a laissez-faire attitude to health and safety and did not take their obligations seriously.

Each had a responsibility for the safety of the construction site but failed to deal with a basic task that very obviously then presented a serious hazard.

Amanda died four-and-a-half years ago and this has been an incredibly long and complex case to bring before the courts with many many hours of enquiries carried out by my team.

 

Her death was completely avoidable and it is satisfying for all involved in this case – and especially Amanda’s family – that the jury have convicted these people and companies today.

 

Prosecutions such as this are so important in enforcing adherence to health and safety laws. This tragic case proves just why employers and employees should take their obligations to safeguard workers and the public seriously.”

Barry and Ann Telfer, Amanda’s parents, said following the verdict:

“Amanda was a bright lovely professional woman living her life to the full and making plans for the future. Her future was taken from her when she was crushed to death by half ton window frames which took two seconds to fall on her. The frames had been left standing, almost vertically, at the side of a public pavement, unsecured to anything, unattended and with no safety barriers around them.

 

If construction companies and the people who work for them are not held to account for such high levels of negligence and incompetence then none of us is safe walking the streets next to construction sites. The Health and Safety training being given is totally inadequate, if risk of death to passers-by is ignored.

It is nearly five years since Amanda died. We would like to thank the police, health and safety officers and prosecution who worked on behalf of Amanda for their persistence and patience. We and all Amanda’s family and friends will always miss her. Nothing will change that.”

In an impact statement for the court they added:

“Every parent who has lost a child to a violent and sudden death knows the overwhelming shock and disbelief which is impossible to describe. We saw our daughter on the morning of the day she died. An hour before she was killed she was with us, telling us about her social plans with friends for that evening and for the weekend, looking forward to some interesting legal work that she was going to be starting that afternoon, planning a weekend in France to see her brother and his family. She was very cheerful, making plans and looking forward.

 

An hour later she was dead, killed whilst walking along the public pavement in central London. We’ll never see her again or hug her again. We’ll never hear her laugh again or enjoy her company again. Amanda was the best company, funny and interesting herself and always interested in and fully engaged with whoever she was talking to. She was very loving, generous and supportive to us and to all her family and friends. We spoke together regularly and she would contribute enthusiastically to every family event, birthdays, anniversaries, full of ideas and energy, however busy she was. We looked forward to her companionship and interest in us. Our lives were enriched by her and our old age will be diminished by her absence. She had so many plans for the future, ever improving her professional skills and for travelling. She was so full of life. It’s still almost impossible for us to believe that she really has gone or to come to terms with the random carelessness of how she was killed.

 

We don’t want retribution for our loss of Amanda, though we will never recover from it. We want accountability established, responsibility acknowledged. Her death was avoidable. She was killed by two half-ton window frames which had been left standing at the side of a busy public pavement unsecured, unbalanced and unattended with no safety barriers round them. The risk to passers-by is obvious. Yet the risk was ignored and our daughter, a bright, beautiful woman with so much to live for, so much she wanted to do with her life, was killed.”

Posted by Roger Hart

Routine HSE inspection leads directly to prosecution

We are all used to HSE visiting site and reviewing our arrangements on safety.  If these fall below expected standards we typically see Fee for Intervention costs (FFI) and the possibility of the serving of Improvement or even Prohibition notices.  What’s unusual is when a HSE Inspection results directly in prosecution.

HSE launches several campaigns each year across the different regions of the UK to check on site safety and hundreds of sites are visited.  We know that the April visits in our own region resulted in more than 50% of sites receiving FFI and/or enforcement action.

HSE Inspection leads directly to prosecution

One site visited in Wilmslow led directly to a court case, an unusual step for HSE.  Read on to find out why these steps were taken.

Despite no specific injury having occurred the site was so poorly organized that the inspector decided that a prosecution was the best course of action. Reference to the photographs above show the poor state of the site and it was felt that a death or serious injury was a real possibility.

Key failings were the missing and removed edge protection and general site debris – this was not removed from site but was tipped to the rear of the plot burying the footings of the scaffolding and making access hazardous.

A prohibition and Improvement Notice were served and the subsequent prosecution saw Skyline Building Services Ltd  fined £20,000 with £4095.60 costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Ian Betley said:

“Numerous failings were found on this site, including serious risks of falls from height and site tidiness that could have resulted in major injuries or even death.

Skyline Building Services Limited showed scant regard for the safety of the workers they were responsible for and it was fortunate that nobody was seriously injured or killed.”

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Posted by Roger Hart

CDM Client fined £160,000 after failure to appoint competent contractor

Both the building owner and the contractor they employed to demolish a structure have received heavy fines following safety failings which led to an uncontrolled collapse onto a high street in November 2013 and the CDM Client fined £160,000.

It is a requirement of CDM 2007 (now replaced by CDM 2015) that a construction CDM client must not engage a contractor unless reasonable steps have been to ensure that the contractor is competent.

CDM Client fined

Contractor Michael Elmes was engaged to undertake demolition work by Panther AL (VAT) Ltd but HSE found in its investigation that Marton Elmes had failed to properly plan the works.  The client did not make any enquiries as to the suitability or competence of Marton Elmes to undertake the demolition work. The lack of a road closure put the general public at risk of injury.

  • Martin Elmes – of Barnacres Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 25(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and has been sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for two years.
  • Panther AL (VAT) Limited – of Deneway House, Darkes Lane, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9128.89.

HSE inspector Andrew Cousins said after the hearing:

“Lives were put at risk when this structure uncontrollably collapsed. Clients have a responsibility to appoint competent contractors to undertake hazardous work such as demolition.

Those in control of demolition have a responsibility to plan demolition work and to devise a safe way of working that protects both the workers and members of the public.

The job could have been safely carried out by simply undertaking the demolition behind a substantial hoarding.”

 

Posted by Roger Hart