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SMALLER BUILDER FACES LARGER FINE

HSE inspection revealed risk of people and materials falling from height

Alexson Homes Limited of Wolverhampton company has been ordered to pay over £7,000 in fines and prosecution costs after work at height was carried out with a risk of falling some 5m during dismantling part of the roof of a former children’s home in February 2010.

The men carrying out the work faced a risk of serious injury or even death and the HSE Inspector issued a prohibition notice since there were no measures in place to prevent them falling from the roof of the building.

Persons working below at risk from falling materials

The work also put other people on site at risk as materials were being dropped from the side of the roof in an uncontrolled manner.

The roof edge should have been fitted with scaffold edge protection and a rubble chute to protect other workers on site.

HSE Inspector, Martin Overstall, said:

“All too often HSE Inspectors are called out to serious or fatal incidents in roof work where the precautions are minimal or absent – it is simply not good enough.

“Alexson Homes Limited was extremely lucky that no one was injured when working in such unsafe conditions.

“Building firms must plan a safe method of working, before starting to work on a site. They must put the right precautions in place to protect their workers and others in what can be a highly dangerous industry.”

Comment

The majority of HSE prosecutions, across all sectors, arise from fatal and serious injuries. The decline in such incidents is one reason why we have seen a significant drop in the number of HSE prosecutions over the last 10 years.

On 30 June 2010 the HSE Board is considering a report on this decline and the Board is likely to endorse (para 27) a move towards more prosecutions arising from preventive inspection rather than after death or injury has occurred.

Where there is significant uncontrolled risk or blatant breaches of basic legal requirements the public, and the courts, are likely to welcome use of the prosecution tool in a more preemptive manner.

In such circumstance HSE are increasingly likely to track back such failures and explore the role of the designers and client.

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