Regulatory Update

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18 June, 2018

Contractors face £526,500 penalty for failure to plan work at height

An employee fell through a fragile roof at a leisure centre and sustained six fractures to his back.

A HSE investigation found that two contractors involved had failed to plan and manage the work at height risk. The principal contractor, main contractor and a subcontractor pleaded guilty and must pay fines totalling £526,500.

Construction worker injured after falling onto a scaffolding pole

A construction worker was asked to remove fall arrest bags from a school site. The bags are intended to minimise the risk of injury if someone falls. As the bags were too big to fit down the stairs, the worker carried the bags onto the roof and threw them over the edge. One of the bags became caught on the edge protection, it became dislodged and the worker was dragged over the edge falling two metres and landing on the end of a scaffolding pole.

The HSE investigation found that employees had been exposed to the fall risk because the company had not put in place fall protection measures which met the British standard. This requires guard-rails, toe-boards, barriers and similar collective means of protection to be securely installed so that they can't be displaced.

The company pleaded guilty but has since gone into administration and was therefore fined £1.

Two companies fined after worker fell from height

A contractor and scaffolding company have been fined for safety breaches after a worker fell five metres from a roof.

A sub-contractor working for Centreco (UK) Ltd, was installing solar panels to the roof of a building. He slipped on the roof, sliding down to the edge protection. The toe board snapped and he fell through the scaffold. He suffered a fracture to his spine, a broken coccyx and nerve damage.

An investigation by the HSE found the scaffolding company had not constructed the scaffold to a known industry standard or design. The contractor had also failed to take into account the presence of roof lights and take effective measures to prevent workers falling through fragile surfaces.

The scaffolding company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £28,800 and ordered to pay £945.20 in costs. Centreco (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined £33,500 and ordered to pay £945.20 in costs.

Forbes comment

The purpose of The Work at Height Regulations 2005 is to prevent death and injury caused by a fall from height. Unfortunately, falls from height remain a common problem on construction sites and is one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries. Employers and those in control of work at height must first assess the risks and ensure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. This includes using the right type of equipment for working at height.

Business Owner Imprisoned After Worker Electrocuted

A worker was electrocuted and sustained serious injuries after plugging a tyre stripping machine into a wall socket.

An investigation by the HSE found that the electrical installation was unsafe and more suited to a domestic premises. There was evidence of water ingress on the behind the socket. The socket itself was found to be in a poor condition with evidence of exposed wires.

The business owner pleaded guilty to breaching Section 4 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison.

Forbes comment

When sentencing, an overriding consideration was the failure to effectively maintain electrical equipment which could have resulted in a fatal injury. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Anne Marie Orrells commented "This case highlights the importance of regular proactive maintenance and inspection of work equipment, including electrical installations, to ensure that they do not deteriorate to the extent that it puts people at risk.

For more information contact Ridwaan Omar in our Insurance department via email or phone on 01254 222457. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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