Croydon contractor ‘unsafe’ due to risk of falls
Having recently in this column highlighted serious safety issues in a Croydon building site, we have to return to the area again because a Croydon-based construction firm has been fined for unsafe working practices at their site in the London Borough of Lewisham. These practices were apparently not improved despite repeated warnings from HSE Inspectors.
The firm, Anza Ltd, was taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive due to their serious safety concerns resulting from two visits to the site at Honor Oak Road, Forest Hill, SE London in mid-2009.
At Westminster Magistrates Court it was stated that the contractor received Inspector’s advice and was also served a Prohibition Notice about their lack of management of the risk of falls on 18th May 2009. An Improvement Notice was then also served on 27th May 2009: this required them to provide proper welfare facilities to their workers.
Inspectors once more visited on 1st July 2009. Their conclusions were that the firm had not put sufficient measures in place to prevent workers (who were using stairs to access the lower level of the site) from falling. A fall prevention Prohibition Notice was therefore served.
They also determined from the follow-up visit that Anza Ltd had ignored the advice that they had given about the duty of care that it owed to the on-site workforce. Therefore, they failed to comply with the requirements of the Improvement Notice served on 27th May.
As is quite common in cases of this kind, by the time the case came to court, some three years after the initial breach, the company was no longer in existence. Therefore although Anza Ltd, formerly of Wydehurst Road, Croydon, was found guilty (in absentia) of flouting no less than three major regulations –
- the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974,
- the Work at Height Regulations 2005
- the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
- its fine of £15,000 and full prosecution costs of £6,752 may never be paid.
The comment of the HSE Inspector, Abosede Ogunsekan was:
“This company had ignored previous warnings and enforcement notices from HSE, and continued to neglect their duty of care to their workers. Falls from height are the greatest cause of major injury and fatalities in the construction industry; and if companies do not take steps to prevent these, then HSE will be robust in its response. Even though there were no injuries in this instance, serious safety breaches were continued by this construction company which could have resulted in serious injuries”.
Avoid the same trap
It was evident from pictures taken at the time that the steps and walkways were seriously deficient and unacceptable to any well-run contractor.
Professional health and safety consultants such as McCormack Benson Health & Safety would have spotted the problems immediately and, if engaged by such a contractor, would have been proactive in identifying what needed to be done as well as getting involved in the steps that were necessary to sort out the shortcomings. There is sometimes no help for a rogue firm, but the vast majority are people who want to do a good job and maintain a safe working place. They can be, and often are, helped to do a better, and often more productive, job as a result.