Members of public witnessed unsafe working practices in Bristol city centre…
A construction company endangered the lives of its workforce and residents living in the vicinity of their site because they repeatedly ignored safety warnings issued by the HSE relating to the work they were carrying out in Bristol city centre.
The company was working on a project to convert the upper floors of a building into residential accommodation as well as adding timber floors on the top floor of the building.
During the course of this work the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the site on six occasions between August and October 2011 after members of the public raised concerns about some of the working practices they witnessed.
Bristol Magistrates Court heard that health and safety Inpsectors who visited the site identified a number of safety issues including inadequate scaffolding, materials falling from the roof, mobile platforms being used without harnesses and a lack of edge protection to prevent falls.
As well as the multiple safety failings in the area of working at heights there were also fire risks found at the site due to the lack of fire extinguishers and any kind of alarm system and the fact there was no evidence of clearly marked emergency routes.
The Health and Safety Executive issued several Prohibition Notices on the company requiring the company to cease work but decided to prosecute after it became apparent that dangerous working practices were continuing.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Regulation 38 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined a total of £10,000 in addition to costs of £4,629.
HSE Inspector Steve Frain spoke after the hearing:
“Right from the start of the job, the company was warned about its health and safety performance and individual directors were made aware of the initial failings we identified at the site.
“The number of follow-up inspections and interventions we made in this case went far beyond what would normally be required. The same risks were clearly pointed out at each inspection, yet still the company failed to take sufficient action.
“Falls from height are the single most significant cause of death or serious injury within the construction industry and timber frame construction methods pose a greatly increased fire safety risk that requires high standards of management and control throughout a project.
“Although there was no fire on this occasion, a fire on this site carried a high risk of serious injury to the workforce and members of the public.
“These are not minor technical breaches of the law. They show a failure of leadership across the company which led to a high risk of significant injuries.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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