Steve Ashworth

Recent Prosecutions round-up - February 2015

Stephen Ashworth - Health and Safety Services Manager

16 February 2015

The prosecution cases detailed below highlight the importance of suitable support for excavations, proper welfare facilities and stairwell protection.

Case 1: Poor welfare facilities and unsafe excavation work

A Gloucestershire house builder and the company's managing director have been fined for poor welfare facilities and unsafe excavation work at a house building site near Cinderford.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified a number of concerns at the new-build development, 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, both accepted 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.

K W Bell Group Ltd, 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, was personally fined £9,000 with £3,502 costs after also pleading guilty to the same breaches.

After the hearing, HSE commented that there were no excuses for unsupported excavations and insufficient welfare facilities. "It is a clear legal requirement, and both parties should have known that as experienced developers."

Case 2: Fall caused by lack of stairwell protection

Fall caused by lack of stairwell protection

A house builder has been sentenced after a joiner suffered serious injuries when he fell five metres from the second floor of a new development in Alderley Edge.

Cheshire Housebuilders Ltd was prosecuted by the HSE following the incident at its Oak Park development on Heyes Lane in Alderley Edge.

The joiner had been laying floorboards on the second floor of a five-bedroom detached house when the incident happened. Another worker was using the forks on a telehandler to lift a stack of roof beams onto the second floor when they swung out of control and struck the joiner.

He was knocked down a two-metre square staircase void to the ground below. His injuries included a fractured wrist, arm and punctured knee. He also needed stitches to his lower lip and tongue.

The HSE investigation found that there were no handrails or other safety measures in place around the void, despite the company's own health and safety document highlighting this requirement.

There was also no crash decking beneath the joists to catch the workers if they fell through the gaps while they fitted the floorboards.

Cheshire Housebuilders Ltd, of Byley, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £3,633 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a safety breach.

It is essential that no work is allowed on upper floors until proper access is in place with robust protection around any openings such as stairwells. If access is required before handrails can be fitted consider using scaffold, crash decks or sacrificial flooring to protect the voids.

Case 3: Unsafe lifting operation

A housebuilder has been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a concrete beam that fell from a telehandler.

Concrete beams for the ground floor had arrived and were stacked around the site. The next day workers began to install them and they were moved from their various locations around the site on a telehandler. The beams were carried either on the forks or using two slings. A 4.75-metre beam weighing around 300kg was placed into slings which were slung from a single fork.

One employee kept hold of the end of the beam to stop it swinging into the front of the vehicle while a colleague lifted the telehandler forks to raise the beam to shoulder height. The driver started to reverse the telehandler at which point one of the slings slipped off the fork, bringing the beam crashing down on the worker guiding the beams.

He was airlifted to hospital with severe pelvic injuries and spent six weeks in hospital undergoing a series of operations. He remains off work undergoing physiotherapy and may be unable to return to the same work which he has been doing for 22 years.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that a method statement prepared for the lifting of the beams said slings should be securely choked around the beam and lifted on the telehandler using a sling-lifting eye. The injured person had not seen this document and his colleague operating the telehandler had not received any formal training. A risk assessment had been carried out but did not identify the need for a specific lifting plan or technical information on the loads to be lifted.

M&J Ballantyne Ltd, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £551 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.