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Company and director in court for poor site standards

Date:
27 January 2015

A Gloucestershire housebuilder and the company’s managing director have been fined for poor welfare facilities and unsafe excavation work at a construction site near Cinderford.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified a number of concerns at the new-build development on Hudson Lane, Buckshaft, in December 2013. They included a lack of hot running water and washing facilities, and an unsupported excavation for a new sewer.

Local firm K W Bell Group Ltd and MD Keith Bell, aged 74, both accepted yesterday (26 January) that welfare and safety standards at the site fell short and the offences had been committed with the consent, connivance or was attributable to the neglect of, Keith Bell himself.

Cheltenham Magistrates heard the firm was building five homes at the site, work that commenced in April 2013 and was overseen by Keith Bell

The sanitation and excavation failings were found during a site visit on 11 December, although it was established there had been failures during the entire period of works to date.

HSE served an Improvement Notice requiring urgent welfare improvements. A Prohibition Notice was also served to stop any further excavation work with immediate effect until the excavations were  properly supported.

K W Bell Group Ltd, of Whimsey Industrial Estate, Steam Mills Road, Cinderford, was fined a total of £4,000 and ordered to pay £765 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Keith Bell, of Elton, Gloucestershire was fined £9,000 with £3,502 costs after also pleading guilty to the same breaches.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Sue Adsett said:

“The standards I saw at the Hudson Lane development were poor. The excavation work, in particular, was a major cause for concern because there was clear evidence of excavation entry without adequate precautions. The consequences of the sides of the excavation collapsing on someone could have been devastating, and precautions, such as a trench box, could have easily been provided mentioned in the company’s own method statement.

“The welfare failings  – no toilet or hand washing facilities for four months worth of construction work – were particularly disappointing given previous Improvement Notices served by HSE on the subject at other sites.  Construction workers need access to hot running water and washing facilities in order to remove potentially harmful dirt and dust before they eat and drink. It is a clear legal requirement, and both parties should have known that as experienced developers.”

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. Regulation 22(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 covers the ‘duties of a principal contractor’. As outlined here: CDM Regs 22(1)
  3. Regulation 31(1) states: “All practicable steps shall be taken, where necessary to prevent danger to any person, including, where necessary, the provision of supports or battering, to ensure that (a) any excavation or part of an excavation does not collapse; (b) no material from a side or roof of, or adjacent to, any excavation is dislodged or falls; and (c) no person is buried or trapped in an excavation by material which is dislodged or falls.”
  4. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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