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Wimbledon building firm risked workers’ lives

Date:
20 November 2014

A construction company in south west London has been prosecuted for exposing its workforce to serious dangers on a building site in Holland Park.

Several serious risks were identified during a visit by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors in November 2013 as part of a nationwide campaign by HSE focusing on basement construction works.

Westminster Magistrates were  told (19 Nov) that HSE had found a catalogue of safety failings at the Stach Ltd site that related to the risks of workers falling from heights of between two and five metres, including: –

• Workers having to climb over edge protection – which is supposed to prevent falls – to get onto a ladder to reach basement excavations

• Workers having to again climb over edge protection, this time to operate the controls for spoil conveyors, which took them to an area without barriers or even a safe surface to stand

• Unnecessary work being carried out over a skip, two metres above passers-by and street traffic, with no means to prevent falls, and

• The removal of edge protection for space to move materials around, leaving an open edge and exposing workers to a potential fall of five metres.

HSE served prohibition notices on three of the specific danger areas, halting any further work until Stach Ltd took measures to resolve the safety issues.

HSE told the court that similar prohibition notices had been served on the company for work at the same site only two months before the November inspection, yet Stach Ltd had obviously not taken sufficient and consistent action to raise its safety standards.

Stach Ltd of Granville Road, London SW19, was fined £12,500 and ordered to pay £1,698 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Stephron Baker Holmes said:

“Although there was no injury that prompted the prosecution, that is more a matter of good fortune rather than good management by Stach Ltd of their building site.

“The failings identified were numerous and serious, but could have been remedied quite simply. The cost would be modest, but the benefits in terms of potential for saving life and limb are significant.

“The earlier enforcement action ought to have served as a warning to the company that it needed to improve its management of work at height. Instead, workers were again exposed to unacceptable levels of risk.”

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. Regulations 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”

 

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