Building safety issues at ‘serial offender’ principal contractor
It is bad enough when you get one unannounced site visit from inspectors of the Health & Safety Executive – but when your contracting firm is used to it and has become a multiple offender, then you can be sure of HSE’s particular attention and you will have your day in court, a fine and the attendant bad publicity that results (as you see here…)
The particular offence that forced them into Black Country Magistrates’ Court was to do with the lack of proper protection for people who had to work at height – but what made it worse was that many similar cases had been uncovered before.
The firm in question is AM Construction Ltd. and it was working on a building project at Tildasley Street, West Bromwich, West Midlands. Inspectors who called at the site on 15th May 2014 were disturbed to find that workers were operating at a first floor level but they lacked the required primary fall prevention or secondary fall mitigation safety measures, such as:
- Edge Protection
This of course led to the issuing of a Prohibition Notice to stop any work being done at height until the proper measures were put in place. The bigger problem was that this was far from being the contractor’s first transgression.
It had amassed no fewer than eight previous Prohibition Notices over a 10-year period: and seven of those were also for bad working at height practices. Surely the firm’s management should have got the message over the years?
AM Construction Ltd, based in Hayes, Middlesex, received a fine of £5,300 and had to pay £1,157 of prosecution costs for breaching Regulation 6(3)* of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It is not mentioned in HSE’s public report of the case but the firm must surely also have had to pay a Fee For Intervention (FFE) and it would have its own legal bill. Not to mention the effect upon its reputation within the industry for having a bad construction safety record.
Gareth Langston, an HSE inspector, commented:
Work at height is the biggest cause of death in the workplace and remains a priority area for HSE. When companies regularly fall below the minimum legal standards and repeatedly ignore advice prosecution is inevitable. AM Construction Ltd has become a repeat offender in ignoring HSE’s advice and failing in its duty to ensure the safety of its workforce. It is extremely lucky that no-one was killed or hurt.
McCormack Benson Health & Safety is a specialist safety consultancy with industry-trained building sector field consultants who work with contractors to help them work smarter and avoid FFIs and court appearances. You can read a primer on working at height here: but for affordable, personal attention from experts who know your problems and can help solve them, get in touch with MBHS.
*Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005:
“Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.”