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Ledbury drinks maker and Hereford scaffolder fined for health and safety failings

9 July 2013

A drinks producer and a building services firm have been fined for safety failings at a Ledbury factory.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified concerns following a serious incident involving a scaffold at Universal Beverages Ltd’s premises on Little Marcle Road on 1 October 2009.

Central Roofing and Building Services Ltd, trading as Erect-A-Scaffold, was appointed by Universal Beverages to erect and maintain scaffolding at the site.

Both companies were sentenced today (8 July) after the HSE investigation identified several breaches of safety law.

Worcester Crown Court heard during a week-long trial (1-8 July) that there were "significant" issues with the scaffolding, including loose boards and big gaps.

It is a legal requirement for a scaffold over two meters high to be inspected every seven days to ensure it is safe to use, and for any defects to be immediately rectified. However, Central Roofing and Building Services did not inspect the scaffold frequently enough and on more than one occasion, sent an inexperienced and unqualified employee to carry out the inspection.

HSE found the company failed to perform adequate and regular safety inspections and maintenance of the scaffold.

Universal Beverages, meanwhile, failed to ensure the subcontractor it appointed fulfilled its obligation in this regard. In doing so the drinks company also failed to ensure the safety of non-employees.

Universal Beverages Ltd, registered to Bridge Street, Staines, Middlesex, was fined a total of £85,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 costs, after being found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Central Roofing and Building Services Ltd, trading as Erect-A-Scaffold, of Central Park, Holmer Road, Hereford, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £18,000 costs after pleading guilty to the same breach.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Humphries said:

"As the principal contractor on this building project, Universal Beverages was responsible for ensuring that the scaffolding was checked every seven days to ensure it was safe and that workers were not exposed to risk.

"As the sub-contractor on the site, Central Roofing Services was responsible for ensuring that the inspection was carried out weekly by a competent person, which they failed to do.

"Companies working on construction projects have a duty to monitor the practices of the subcontractors they engage, while subcontractors need to ensure their employees are competent to undertake the work they have been engaged to do."

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce 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.
  2. Regulation 12(4) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: "Every employer shall ensure that a working platform used for construction work, and from which a person could fall two metres or more, is not used in any position unless it has been inspected in that position or, in the case of a mobile working platform, inspected on the site, within the previous seven days.&
  3. Regulation 5 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: "no person shall engage in any activity, including organisation, planning and supervision, in relation to work at height or work equipment for use in such work unless he is competent to do so or, if being trained, is being supervised by a competent person."
  4. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."

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