01 July, 2021
A plumbing supply company and its building contractor have been fined after unsafe construction work took place at the company premises in Burnley.
Burnley Magistrates' Court heard that on 21 October 2018, Northwest Plumbing Supplier Limited and contractor Daniel Georghiou, carried out construction work on their retail building without measures to adequately plan, manage and monitor the work, including protecting members of the public and operatives on site. As a result, work was carried out in an unsafe manner and a large section of System House at the junction of Accrington Road and Rose Grove in Burnley collapsed into the adjacent car park and across the main road.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Northwest Plumbing Supplier Limited failed to appoint a contractor with the appropriate skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability; and failed to adequately plan and manage the project. Mr Georghiou hired and sourced equipment and material to complete the building work but failed to ensure the structural integrity of the building and ensure lifting operations were carried out in a safe manner, putting members of the public at risk.
Northwest Plumbing Supplier Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,843.
Daniel Georghiou pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (2) of Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and was ordered to pay costs of £750.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jacqueline Western said: "This was a very serious incident, it is fortunate that nobody was injured and it occurred on a Sunday when the level of traffic on the main road was low. The consequences could have been much graver had the building collapsed onto a vehicle.
"This situation could so easily have been avoided by ensuring someone competent was carrying out the work in a planned and organised manner.
"Companies should be aware that the HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards."
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 impose a framework for the management of construction projects, ensuring that the various duty holders including the client, principal designer and principal contractor have certain responsibilities from selection of competent contractors, to the planning and co-ordination of the work and the continued monitoring and managing of the work.
The regulations also require the preparation of a Construction Phase Plan which would set out the health and safety management plan for the construction phase of the project. Had this been undertaken then the hazards and risks associated with the project works would have been identified and controlled to minimise the risk of injury effected by those works.