Category Archives: Health and Safety

Construction Boss Jailed

A boss of a construction firm has received a 12 month prison sentence following trial at The Old Bailey.

Amanda Telfer was killed when a stack of large unglazed frames collapsed on her as she walked past a building site in Hanover Square, central London. Members of the public rushed to help, but Telfer could not be saved and she was pronounced dead at the scene just before noon on 30 August 2012.

A jury found the supervisor at IS Europe Ltd, Kelvin Adsett, 64, of Slough, Berkshire, guilty of manslaughter and breaching health and safety. It was said on his behalf that his life was destroyed as the result of “an aberration of carelessness”.

Sentencing him to 12 months in prison, Judge Peter Rook QC told him: “Your actions contributed to the wholly needless and untimely death of Amanda Telfer.” The judge said he had shown “reckless disregard” for what was a life-threatening situation.

Westgreen Construction Limited site manager Damian Lakin-Hall, 50, of Cobham, Surrey, was convicted of failing to take reasonable care of safety while at work.   Rook sentenced him to six months’ jail, suspended for two years.

The court had heard how the frames, which together weighed 655kg, had been left leaning against a wall after being delivered the previous day, before the site was ready for their installation.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said it was “obvious to anyone” they carried a “clear and serious risk of death” to anyone walking past.

The frames were seen to move in the wind, prompting concern from the public that they might fall into the busy central London street. Another member of the public had almost been hit in a “near-miss” at the site just days before the fatal accident, the court heard.

Atkinson said: “There were a series of obvious and, in many cases, straightforward steps that could have been taken to avoid that risk – ranging from cancellation, delay, refusal of delivery on the one hand, to the storage, the use of straps and barriers. None were taken by any of the defendants and Amanda Telfer died as a result.”

Lawyer’s death was preventable – 4 on trial

The trial of 4 people and 3 companies commenced in February at The Old Bailey after the tragic death of a young lawyer back in 2012.

Amanda Telfer, 43, was killed when window frames due to be installed in a building in Hanover Square fell onto her as she walked past the building.  The window frames had been left stacked up against a wall the previous day, unsecured, unrestrained and weighing a total of half a tonne.

Four people and three companies deny a total of 13 charges over her death.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said builders were not ready to install the frames but that they were delivered anyway.

He said it was “obvious to anyone” that the heavy frames, which together weighed 1,444lb (655kg), carried a “clear and serious risk of death”, including to those walking past.

Mr Atkinson told the court: “There were a series of obvious and, in many cases, straightforward steps that could have been taken to avoid that risk, ranging from cancellation, delay, refusal of delivery on the one hand, to the storage, the use of straps and barriers.

“None were taken by any of the defendants and Amanda Telfer died as a result.”

The jury at the Old Bailey was told how another member of the public had almost been hit in a “near-miss” at the site just days before the fatal accident.

Work was “routinely carried out” on the pavement and equipment was stored there overnight, but there was no external barrier to separate the working area from the public, Mr Atkinson said.

“In the days before the accident, a plywood hoarding had fallen from one of the apertures on the building, almost hitting a member of the public as he made his way home.”

Mr Atkinson said the alleged incident raised questions over health and safety at the site.

Damian Lakin-Hall, 50, from Cobham, Surrey, Claire Gordon, 36, from Leeds, and 64-year-old Kelvin Adsett – also known as Kelvin Schultz – from, Slough, Berkshire, deny manslaughter and health and safety breaches.

Steven Rogers, 62, from Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of failure to take reasonable care for safety while at work as an employee of Westgreen Construction.

IS Europe of Slough, Westgreen Construction, of Richmond in Surrey, and Drawn Metal of Leeds, also deny health and safety charges.

Estate agents fined after househunter falls 30ft down a well during property viewing

Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard how, during an open house viewing a prospective buyer stepped onto a wooden board which was covering a well.  The board gave way and she fell 30ft down the well, where she became submerged by water. A hosepipe was thrown to the woman and she managed to secure it around her waist it was another hour before she was recused from the well. The incident left the victim with head injuries, including concussion but also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The incident occurred while the estate agents were holding an open house viewing at a property.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the estate agents had been warned about the well and the board that was covering it did not look safe. The company did not properly investigate if there was a risk of people falling down the well when they were viewing the property. It was heard that a Strakers’ employee had visited the house, and assumed that the wooden board would have a metal grill underneath it. He did not however lift the board to check.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Matthew Tyler said: “This incident could have easily become a fatal tragedy. If, when warned, of the unsafe well the company had properly checked to see if it was secure the trauma this individual has gone through could have been prevented.

“Employers must check the risks associated with their work to protect their workers and members of the public they have contact with. Once they have identified any risks they can take practical steps to control them.”

Director disqualified and sent to prison for safety failings which led to young worker suffering serious burns

HSE reports that the director of a construction company has been imprisoned for eight months after failing to take appropriate action which resulted in a young worker receiving serious burns.

Cardiff Crown Court heard the young worker was instructed to stand on top of a skip and pour a drum of flammable thinners onto the burning waste to help it to burn. The fireball that resulted when the thinners ignited caused the worker to be blown from the skip and he suffered substantial burns to his arms and legs.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company director did not ensure the burning of the waste material was being carried out in a safe or appropriate manner. He failed to administer any first aid to the young injured worker and did not send him to hospital, the most appropriate response given the severity of the injuries suffered. He failed to inform HSE of the incident, a legal requirement, and the incident was only reported sometime later by a third party

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Adele Davies said “David Stead failed his employees. His actions could have resulted in the death of this worker. The young man suffered unnecessary life threatening injuries due to poor working standards.

“We hope this sentence sends out a message that directors of businesses must take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.”

8 month prison sentence following fatal fall

The HSE has reported on a court case involving a Manchester Building Contractor who engaged unqualified labourers for roof works.

The building contractor has been jailed for 8 months following the death of a casual labourer who fell nearly seven metres through a fragile roof.

The 45-year-old labourer from Manchester had been carrying out repair work when the incident occurred on 23 November 2013.

The building contractor had been engaged by the warehouse owner, who believed him to be competent, to carry out repair and maintenance work on the warehouse roof. He then hired two people to do the work.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that both workers were not qualified to carry out work at height. They had accessed the roof via a ladder in order to repair and seal leaking guttering. No safety precautions were in place to protect the two men from the danger of falling through the fragile roof.

Manchester Crown Court heard that The building contractor failed to assess the risks or put a safe working method in place. No suitable training or equipment to work on the roof had been provided.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Principal Inspector Mike Sebastian is reported to have said: ”The dangers of falls through fragile roofs and working at height are well known. Simple steps such as removing the need to access the roof directly by using mobile working platforms, or boarding out the roof, or using safety harnesses, can and should be used to prevent accident and injury.

The failure to take any such actions resulted in a tragic and needless loss of life.

Office of Rail and Road report concludes driver only operation is safe

Hard pressed commuters are going to read with interest the recent statement made by the official regulator in relation to Driver Only Operated trains.  This has apparently been at the heart of the unions grievance for months.

Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, said:

“Following a thorough review of GTR-Southern’s method and implementation of Driver Only Operation, ORR is satisfied that with suitable equipment, proper procedures and competent staff in place, it is a safe method of working.

“ORR has made some recommendations for further improvements, including ensuring that CCTV image quality is consistently high. GTR-Southern has accepted and is in the process of implementing these recommendations. As the safety regulator we will continue our inspections and are also working with the industry to ensure it reviews and updates its work in adopting best practice procedures, training and equipment in relation to the safe dispatch of trains.”

In an earlier statement Mr Prosser had said “Trains with doors operated by drivers (known in the industry as ‘Driver Only Operation’) have been in operation in Great Britain for more than 30 years. ORR has scrutinised this approach, and our inspectors are satisfied that with suitable equipment, proper procedures and competent staff in place, it is a safe method of working.”

 

Lack of asbestos management plan leads to prosecution

HSE’s website carries news of a property company in Oxfordshire has been fined for failing to manage asbestos on their premises following a fire.

Reading Crown Court heard how a fire occurred at Faringdon Business Park on 26 July 2014 destroying four units on the site.

Tapecrown Limited failed to have a suitable plan and risk assessment in place for the safe management of asbestos containing materials on their premises.

Tapecrown Limited, of Market Place, Wantage, Oxfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,000.

HSE inspector Sharron Cripps said: “It is important for all duty holders to manage asbestos on their premises. To do this the dutyholder needs to identify asbestos containing material (ACM), determine where it is located, what condition it is in and what measures should be taken to manage the risk associated with asbestos.

For further information on Duty to Manage Asbestos visit: www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/duty.htm

Company and Director fined after Multiple Safety Failings on Construction Site

HSE’s website reports that a construction company and its Managing Director have been prosecuted for operating an unsafe construction site during the conversion of a building in Bollington.

Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard how the conditions on the site, where a former pub was being changed into two houses, were so poor it prompted a member of public to complain to the local authority.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspected the site and had to stop all the work on the building as the conditions were so dangerous and putting workers lives at immediate risk. In total HSE inspectors served three prohibition notices and two improvements notices for safety failings that ranges from work at height issues, missing floorings with no protection and health failings including the provision of welfare facilities with running water.

HSE’s inspection also found an extremely unsafe wall on the property that had not been sufficiently supported to prevent it from collapsing.

The HSE investigation found that both the company and its director did not put in place effective health and safety management at the start of the conversion. They failed to notify HSE of the project, appoint a competent principal contractor or ensure they had suitable and sufficient measures to reduce risks to workers and members of the public.

HSE prosecution announcement

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has this week informed BAM Nuttall Limited, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) Ltd, and Keir Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd that they will be prosecuted in relation to three incidents that took place during the construction of the new Crossrail railway tunnel construction, which runs east to west across London.

HSE’s website reports that all three companies will appear at Westminster’s Magistrates Court in January 2017 to face four charges, each. Two relating to the death of Rene Tka’cik on the 7 March 2014 and one each relating to injuries to Terrence Hughes on the 16 January and Alex Vizitiu on 22 January 2015.

Roofing firm fined after worker’s ladder fall

HSE’s website carries news of a King’s Lynn roofing company has been prosecuted after a worker fell seven metres from a scaffold access ladder while assisting with chimney repairs.

Kings Lynn Magistrates Court heard how the worker was subcontracted by J Webber Roofing Limited to assist with removing waste, mixing cement and bringing tools up to colleagues who were working on the chimney at a domestic property on Beech Avenue in Kings Lynn on 10 July 2015.

The company had erected a scaffold platform around the chimney with an access ladder attached to it. The worker climbed up the ladder carrying a cement filled bucket with a radio attached to it, on his shoulder. He lost his balance and fell approximately seven metres to the ground. The fall resulted in multiple fractures to both of the worker’s wrists and his lower left arm. He required surgery and steel plates and will never regain full use of his hands.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that J Webber failed to adequately plan work at height which involved manual handling of construction materials and waste up and down scaffold ladders.

J Webber Roofing Limited of 81 Gayton Road, Gaywood, Kings Lynn pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,582 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Kasia Urbaniak said: “The risk of falls from ladders is well known. Ladders are being frequently misused where often better specifically designed equipment is easily available.

“This incident which has left a worker without the full use of his hands could have been easily avoided if a ‘gin wheel’ had been installed on the scaffold platform to transport tools and other construction materials”.