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Monmouthshire firm ignored safety warning at excavation site

Date:
25 April 2014

A development company carried out potentially dangerous work and then ignored a Prohibition Notice requiring them to stop until improvements had been made, a court has heard.

Eastlake Developments carried out the work to install septic tanks in a six-metre-deep excavation for cottages in Llanfair Discoed, near Chepstow, in July 2013 but allowed an unqualified worker to be in charge of the project.

The work was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which prosecuted the company at Cwmbran Magistrates Court today (25 April).

The court heard that a HSE inspector visited the site following concerns raised about the safety of workers. Significant failings were found, including the large excavation which had unsupported sides and no barriers to prevent anyone falling in.

The site manager had also not had the required training necessary to manage excavations and a Prohibition Notice was served to prevent any further work taking place.

Despite this, the company continued to work in the excavation and during a return visit inspectors found a second tank had been installed.

Eastlake Developments Ltd, of Parc Maes Ffynnon, Itton, near Chepstow, pleaded guilty to two breaches of health and safety legislation and was fined a total of £8,000 and ordered to pay £1,187 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Steve Richardson said:

“More people die working in the construction industry than any other trade so companies must plan, manage and control construction work in a safe way. That means employing competent people who understand the risks of the job under their control.

“Failure to observe Prohibition or Improvement Notices served by HSE is a criminal offence and is taken very seriously by the courts.”   Further information about working safely in excavations can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/lwit/assets/downloads/excavations.pdf

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 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work ect 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.”

3.  Section 33(1)(g) 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).’

4.  HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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