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Construction firm fined over unsafe work practises during refurbishment

Date:
10 December 2015

J B Barbour and Co Ltd, has been fined after a worker was killed when he was struck by a falling signage and fascia assembly, during shop fitting work at a retail unit.

On the 6 July 2011, the 26-year-old employee, Michael Kelly, was clearing debris from the dismantling of shop front units, when the fastenings to the signage and fascia suspended above Mr Kelly failed, causing one end to drop down to the shop floor level, striking Mr Kelly and causing fatal injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company failed to properly assess the supporting arrangements for the signage and fascia assuming they were supported by steel hangers and that it would be safe to remove the shop fronts.

Stafford Crown Court heard that the incident could have been prevented if work had been properly planned, assessed and supervised. The company’s own method statement had sufficient information to implement some control measures that could have prevented the incident, but neither the site team nor management team recognised the need to follow their own guidance after receiving a holding request had been made by their client that affected the sequence of work.

HSE inspector Grayam Barnes said after the hearing: “The company as a whole failed to recognise the danger of working underneath a suspended object. This simple mistake led to the unnecessary death of Michael Kelly, a valued employee and a young man who was well respected both within his local community and as a musician in a local band.”

“The incident could have easily been avoided by simple measures involving little, or nominal cost.”

J B Barbour and Co Limited of Lawmoor Street, Dixons Blazes Industrial Estate, Glasgow pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) and Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £85,000 with £89,053 costs.

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. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk
  4. The HSE website provides guidance relating to structural integrity at http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/buildings.htm
  5. The HSE publication HSG150 – Health & Safety in Construction, which can be downloaded as a free electronic copy from the HSE website also has guidance on safe dismantling in paragraphs 382 – 395

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