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GLAZING FIRM FINED FOR UNCONTROLLED RISK AT HEIGHT

HSE take prosecution action before window fitters injured in fall from height 

Intercity Glazing Systems Ltd, based in West Yorkshire has been ordered to pay over £12k in fines and prosecution costs after visiting HSE inspectors found glaziers working dangerously at height. The men were at risk of falling up to 6m.  

The work was being carried out on a building in Carlisle Road, Bradford, in May 2009. HSE found the company were not properly supervising or managing the work at height

*********** PHOTOGRAPH 1 ***********

Equipment, including tower scaffolds, was not being used safely, and guardrails were also missing from parts of the working area. 

The system of work used by the company to install glass above the ground floor was so unsafe that the work was stopped when HSE served Prohibition Notices on the company. 

The company pleaded guilty at Bradford Magistrates’ Court to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £10k. 

  • Photograph 1 : shows worker standing on the handrails of the tower scaffold inside the building and the top edge of a pane of glass (that had been fitted). He was working at a height of approximately 6 metres from the ground.
  • Photograph 2 : shows the tower on the inside of the building. The tower is resting on wooden boards laid across the steel structure of the feature window at the front of the building. The tower is unsecured and could have moved from the boards causing anyone working on the tower to fall to the ground below.
Supervision must secure effective risk control 
HSE inspector, David Welsh, said:

“In the construction industry falls from height are a serious risk and a major cause of death and life-changing injuries. 

A significant proportion of the falls from height that occur on sites every year result from work where the risks are not being dealt with adequately by proper supervision and control.

When a business expects work at height to be done using particular work equipment it has a duty to ensure that workers use that equipment safely.” 

Comment

********** PHOTOGRAPH 2 **********

Most HSE prosecutions arise from injury incidents. This case shows that non-injury prosecutions are taken by HSE Construction Inspectors.

The penalty (£10k) and reputational damage (entries on prosecution and notices database) can be substantial even for such ‘common’ failings.

The HSE Enforcement Policy Statement (EPS) positvely encourages such prosecutions. The EPS states that, where there is evidence of a breach of law, HSE will ‘normally prosecute’ where:  

  • the gravity of an alleged offence together with the seriousness of any potential harm warrants it;
  • there has been a reckless disregard of health and safety requirements;
  • there have been repeated breaches which give rise to significant risk, or persistent and significant poor compliance;
  • a duty holder’s standard of managing health and safety is found to be far below what is required by health and safety law and to be giving rise to significant risk;
  • there has been a failure to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice; or there has been a repetition of a breach that was subject to a formal caution;

All  construction businesses are surely now fully aware of tower scaffold standards? We may therefore see more preemptive prosecutions in the future.

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