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MAJOR CLIENT PROSECUTED FOR CDM-C ROLE FAILURE

Workman suffered serious leg injuries during manual handling of prefab wall

BAE Systems Properties Ltd, of Farnborough, Hampshire has been fined £8,000 with costs of £6,110 after failing to ensure that a design for construction could be built without risks to the health and safety of those carrying out the building work.

The company assumed the role of CDM-Coordinator involving the duty to oversee designer compliance. However, the company failed to take all reasonable steps to check that designers had complied with their duties contrary to CDM 2007 Regulation 20(2)(c).

The principal contractor, Emcor Facilities Services Ltd, was also prosecuted regarding failures in planning the operation and manual handling contrary to CDM Regulation 22(1)(a). The company was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,110.

BS Interiors (South) Ltd, of Portsmouth, also pleaded guilty to breaching the Manual Handling Regulation 1992 – Reg 4. The company was fined £1,500.

Structure trapped workman during manual handling op

The offences came to light after an electrician suffered serious leg injuries when he became trapped under a prefabricated wall on the BAE Systems site in Portsmouth on 20 August 2008.

Emcor Facilities Services Ltd and BS Interiors (South) Ltd decided to erect the 10.4 metre long, 2.8 metre high wall on the floor due to the design of the building. Seven workers including the injured man proceeded to manually lift the 1,136 kilogram structure. When lifting operation was aborted the workman was trapped beneath the wall.

He suffered injury to his left foot and was hospitalised for two weeks. Two years after the accident he is unable to work full-time and still suffers pain and disability.

Case illustrates importance of planning

HM Specialist Inspector in Occupational Health, Anne Bartlett said:

“This case illustrates the importance of identifying hazards at the planning stage. This is the key aim of the CDM Regulations 2007.

If a proper risk assessment had been carried out, those involved would have realise that manual handing of the wall would have created a real and obvious risk to those present. It defies common sense and was extremely foolhardy.

As a result for this failure Mr Cox sustained serious injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life, but which could so easily have been avoided.”

Comment

This is an unusual and interesting prosecution. There have been very few prosecutions of CDM-Coordinators.

It appears that BAE Systems Properties Ltd ommitted to appoint a coordinator and therefore assumed the duties by virtue of CDM Regulation 14(4) under which the client is deemed to have been appointed as the CDM co-ordinator for any period for which no person has been so appointed.

The client must appoint a CDM-C as early as possible and no later than after initial design work is completed. ‘Initial design work’ includes feasibility studies and any work necessary to identify the client requirements or possible constraints on the development.

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