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Construction client sentenced over multiple safety failings

Date:
22 October 2015

A Hertfordshire based care provider engaged in construction works, has been fined after it admitted unsafe working practices, including failure to remove asbestos materials from the old buildings before demolition work. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received a complaint in March 2014 from a member of the public living close to the former hospital site on Hospital Hill, Chesham, Buckinghamshire concerning activities going on at the premises. 

Upon attending, HSE inspectors noted the former Chesham Community Hospital buildings had been partially demolished by a contractor. However, on enquiring with the client, Chesham Care Ltd, it was discovered that removal of asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) had not taken place prior to demolition. 

High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court, heard Chesham Care Ltd, a provider of nursing and rehabilitation services, was acting as the ‘client’ for the project, but as it had failed to appoint a principal contractor/construction design and management (CDM) co-ordinator in writing, by law it had assumed the associated legal duties and roles. 

When HSE inspectors arrived, among the catalogue of failings, they found the works had been going on for around 2-3 months and observed asbestos containing materials among demolished building debris, demolition arrangements not recorded in writing, the site not securely locked or with relevant warning signs and no welfare facilities present on site. 

In HSE’s opinion there was also a serious risk of injury from collapse of partially demolished buildings. 

Chesham Care Limited’s registered business address is St Catherine’s Road, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. The firm admitted multiple failures of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined a total of £35,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1321.60.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Rauf Ahmed said: “Clients have a key role in safely directing construction project. Effective arrangements at the start can have an amplified positive impact down the various stages to completion. These include making informed appointments, such as designers, principal contractors/contractors using competent sources of health and safety assistance. 

Notes to editors 

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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. hse.gov.uk
  2. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk
  3. Please note below the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 for which fines were imposed:

CDM 14 (1) – Failure to appoint CDM-C as the client. – £5000

CDM 21 (1) – Failure to notify construction project to HSE by virtue of CDM 2 (3) (a) as de jure being the CDM-C. – £5000 

CDM 14 (2) – Failure to appoint PC in writing as the client. – £5000

CDM 16 (a) – Failure to start construction phase as the client by not ensuring principal contractor has prepared a CPHASP. – £5000 

CDM 22 (1) (a) – Failure to plan, manage and monitor the construction phase as de jure being the principal contractor. – £15,000

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