Building safety abuses lead to jail for developer
In construction health and safety court cases, it is not unheard of for serial or serious offenders to receive a suspended prison sentence. Much rarer are the cases where someone is actually sentenced to a prison term. Here is one such.
A series of repeated, flagrant abuses of accepted minimum working standards, and aggressive behavior towards officials, led developer Mr Eze Kinsley to jail.
His project was to redevelop Parkeston House, an old office block in Parkeston, Harwich, Essex. Local people raised the alarm, alarmed at seeing debris fall from on high and endangering unprotected workers, who were also not safeguarded against falls from height. Passers by on the road and pavement were also put at serious risk. The sequence of the main events was as follows:
- 28 Feb 2013: HSE inspector Jonathan Elven visits and is verbally abused by Mr Kinsley
- Essex Police attend with the HSE inspector to serve an immediate Prohibition Notice. Mr Kinsley physically assaults the inspector
- Further reports are received that work has continued
- 3 Apr 2013: second immediate Prohibition Notice served, but is breached within an hour
Fortunately, no one was hurt on this site, but according to the inspector this was a case of “woefully inadequate working practices”. He described the site conditions as “truly appalling with absolutely no provision for workers’ safety”.
Mr. Kinsley did not make any attempt to right the wrongs on site and “refused to accept that he had a responsibility to make sure people who worked for him, and any member of the public living or working near his site, were not subjected to unnecessary risks – and vigorously and violently resisted all attempts to make him take actions to protect them.”
At Chelmsford Crown Court, Eze Kinsley of Edgware, Middlesex was pronounced guilty of seriously breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
He received a custodial sentence of 30 months’ duration, covering –
- two breaches of section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
- three 12-month prison sentences for three counts of contravening a Prohibition Notice, contrary to section 33(1)(g) of the same Act (but these are to be served concurrently with the 30 months’ sentence)
- assaulting an inspector from HSE (this was the subject of a separate court appearance)
He also has costs of £5,000 to pay.
Clearly this is an unusually awful case of someone refusing to take even the most basic health and safety precautions such as providing primary protection to workers who have to work at height, as well as secondary physical protection against materials falling and injuring or killing those below.
Given the facts of the case, it seems unlikely that the guilty party would have been persuaded of the need to seek help from the seasoned professionals of McCormack Benson Health & Safety, the building sector specialists. Maybe he will use his period of enforced idleness to reconsider his approach. Meanwhile those who are still working on sites around the country would do well to get a fresh pair of eyes on their construction safety practices, ensure that they stay the right side of the law, and keep their workers safe.