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Kent firm in court over building site "shambles"

Date:
20 August 2013

Kent firm in court over building site "shambles"

An Ashford-based building company has been prosecuted for repeatedly failing to manage risks on a construction site and exposing workers to needless risk of injury.

Canterbury Magistrates were told today (20 August) that the development site in Ramsgate, run by Ecobuild Homes Ltd, had been visited by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Inspectors seven times in five months.

Between July and November 2012, HSE visited the site in Harbour Street where the company was redeveloping a restaurant into flats. The court heard that on one visit, Inspectors had had no choice but to stop some work at the site immediately owing to the dangers faced by workers of falling from height and issues with electrical safety.

Ecobuild Homes Ltd was served with three prohibition notices halting specified work activities, and two improvement notices setting out required improvements to safety standards. The site manager was also issued with a prohibition notice because the operation of the site was far below minimum legal safety standards.

HSE found issues relating to fire safety, accumulation of rubble, debris and bricks falling into a neighbouring property, and site security.

Ecobuild Homes Ltd, of North Street, Ashford, Kent, was found guilty in their absence to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to comply with an Improvement Notice and guilty to a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Magistrates fined the company, which had failed to appear at court for the second time, a total of £40,000 and ordered them to pay costs of £10,035.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Caroline Penwill said:

"There were elements of this development that had evidently become a shambles – but a dangerous one.

"If HSE visits a construction site and has to issue prohibition notices preventing further work, that in itself shows that there is a very real and immediate risk to workers there, and possibly to members of the public.

"Ecobuild Homes Ltd failed on several fronts to safeguard the workforce from risks that are well known in the construction industry. They either did not identify those risks or neglected to manage them effectively.

"Proper management of work activities and competent site supervision are essential but the company fell well below the required standards."

For advice and information on construction safety, visit www.hse.gov.uk/construction

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It is an offence for a person to contravene any requirement or prohibition imposed by an improvement notice or a prohibition notice (including any such notice as modified on appeal)."
  3. Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: "Every contractor shall plan, manage and monitor construction work carried out by him or under his control in a way which ensures that, so far as is reasonably practicable, it is carried out without risks to health and safety."

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