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BUILDER PROSECUTED FOR FAILING ON BASIC WELFARE

Refurb contractor repeatedly ignored HSE calls to improve standards

A builder has been prosecuted after he failed to provide adequate welfare facilities. Michael Connolly, aged 46, repeatedly ignored calls to improve conditions at a site in Rochedale, Lancs where work was in progress converting a house into flats and shops.

HSE inspectors who visited the site found no toilets or washing facilities. Live electrical conductors were exposed at a plug sockets, scaffolding was unsafe and plaster and rubble were scattered all over the site.

Contractor failed to comply with enforcement notices

Inspectors deemed the site to be so dangerous that Mr Connolly was served with three improvement notices and two prohibition notices.

Despite Mr Connolly’s assurances that he had complied inspectors revisited the site on several occasions and found adequate washing facilities had still not been provided.

HSE Inspector Alan Pojur said:

“In failing to provide basic amenities like hot water, especially when workers would have been covered in building site dust and plaster, Mr Connolly showed a complete lack of regard for the welfare of the people he employed.

Mr Connolly was given every opportunity to correct this problem over three months, but he chose not to do so. I hope his subsequent prosecution sends out a strong message to other employers.”

Michael Connolly, of Burnley, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with Regulation 22(1)(c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 by not providing suitable and sufficient washing facilities, and Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to comply with an improvement notice. He was fined £400 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

Comment

A failure to provide basic welfare requirements and operating an unsafe site would appear to warrant a fine substantially greater than that imposed in this case, especially where there is non-compliance with formal enforcement notices. 

Hoever, magistrates will consider the ‘means’ of the defendant and usually impose lower fines in respect of sole traders. Alternatively, the court mat not have considered the case to be particularly ‘serious’.   

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