30 Apr 2012

Construction firm fined for ignoring safety warnings

A construction company has been fined for continuing unsafe working practices at a site in Upper Norwood, Croydon, after repeatedly ignoring safety warnings.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified multiple failings at a project on Sylvan Hill run by Unicorn Services Limited, where the Kent-based firm was building a four-storey block of flats.
Dangerous systems and procedures for working at height at Sylvan Hill

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard yesterday (25 April) that on 26 September 2011 a HSE inspector served eight Prohibition Notices to stop dangerous practices at the site after identifying serious safety breaches.

The Notices covered dangerous scaffolding, people working unsafely at height, fire-related hazards and dangerous electrical equipment.

Unicorn also supplied "appallingly inadequate" documentation for risk assessments and project management.

HSE returned to the construction site in October and discovered little or no improvement had been made to many of the illegal practices.

An Improvement Notice was subsequently served requiring the site manager to arrange adequate training in order to safely manage construction operations. However, the manager in question failed to meet a compliance date of late November.

Unicorn Services Limited, of Montpellier Avenue, Bexley, was found guilty of breaching Regulation 26(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for its poor site management and failure to adhere to enforcement action. The company was fined £20,000 and was also ordered to pay £5,940 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said:
Dangerous systems and procedures for working at height at Sylvan Hill

"Unicorn Services Limited blatantly ignored enforcement notices and continued to neglect its duty of care to its workforce, most of whom were vulnerable migrant workers.

"The construction site at Sylvan Hill was a potential death trap, with scant regard for safety or employee welfare. Even though there were no reported incidents at the site, serious safety breaches were routinely committed that could have resulted in death or serious injury.

"The work was underpinned by poor management and appallingly inadequate paperwork - total recklessness according to the court. General standards fell well below those expected of a competent principal contractor, which the Health and Safety Executive will simply not tolerate."

HSE Bulletin No: LON/75/12 (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

Another damning example of how to totally ignore the safety of employees while working at height. The lack of care and blatant flaunting of health & safety rules and regulations is shocking to say the least.

As you know, Good to Go Safety developed a range of inspection and tagging systems for equipment including scaffolding and ladders (amongst others). Designed to improve safe systems of work by carrying out informed checks prior to using the equipment, they have proven to be essential management tools. Unfortunately, such systems need to be embraced by the company (we cannot force companies to install safety measures like Good to Go Safety) and the fact that some companies simply cannot see (or more worryingly still, do not care about) the dangers their employees encounter, ensure the need for HSE inspections to try and save a life before the inevitable accident occurs.

When you look at the image of the "ladder" above it is easy to laugh at such a ramshackled affair, though the risks of using such a dodgy piece of equipment are no laughing matter. I'm not sure where we would start in terms of attaching a tag and carrying out a checklist on this particular ladder - I don't think I could conjure up a worse example.

It is sheer good fortune that noone was injured or killed on this particular site and we can only hope that the company will finally get the message as a result of the fine, that H&S is not an option that can be ignored. 

For more information on the Good to Go Safety range of inspection systems for ladders and scaffolding (amongst others) please visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

1 comment:

  1. I like to read things like this because we have to care about the safety and the wellness of the people who work for us, great post


Powered by Blogger.