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Contractor Fined for Multiple Safety Failings

A contractor based in Hertfordshire has been found guilty for multiple safety failings at two separate sites.

Buckinghamshire Site

In March 2014, a member of the public living close to one of the sites – the former Chesham Community Hospital site in Buckinghamshire – made a complaint to the Health and Safety Executive regarding the activities being carried out onsite.

An investigation into the complaint by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a series of safety failings at the premises. Demolition arrangements had not been recorded in writing, security at the site was insufficient and there was a lack of first aid facilities available. Further to this, the HSE inspector found materials containing asbestos amongst building debris and witness accounts of hazardous practices including the unsafe use of construction machinery, as well as unsafe work at height.

Following the investigation, HSE noted that it was the regulators’ opinion that there was a ‘serious risk of injury from collapse of partially demolished buildings’.

Prohibition and Improvement notices were served to both the client and contractor immediately, in order to ensure the control of any on-going risks.

Chesham Care Ltd – the client – was fined a total of £30,000 after being found guilty of breaching the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) in October 2015.

Second Site

Multiple attempts made by the HSE to contact the contractor failed, however in June 2015 a HSE inspector was made aware of dangerous working practices at another site in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Following an inspection, the HSE discovered that the contractor at this site was the same contractor as the site in Buckinghamshire.

The HSE inspector attending the second site found workers dismantling parts of the building in an unsafe manner in order to salvage recyclables and found that no risk assessment had been carried out. According to the client, they had no knowledge of the contractor carrying out work at this second site and had contacted the police.

Again, enforcement action was taken immediately and HSE also hired a private investigator to find the contractor after they had previously failed to respond.

Sentencing

Scot Ian Richardson of Aztec Demolition, the contractor in control of both projects, was found guilty of two breaches of the CDM Regulations 2007 at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court. Richardson was also found guilty of one breach of The Health and Safety at Work Act etc,1974 and one breach of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. He was handed a four month suspended custodial sentence and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community service work. Richardson was also ordered to pay costs of £1,200.

HSE inspector Rauf Ahmed said after the hearing:

“Sole traders who control workers to demolish and dismantle structures must understand their legal obligations. This is a high risk industry in which poor planning has no place. Family members expect their loved ones to come home in one piece.

“Clients have a key role in safely directing construction projects. Effective arrangements at the start can have an amplified positive impact down the various stages to completion, including making informed and competent appointments”

Injury at Work – Expert Advice

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Source: Health & Safety Executive

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