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REFURB CONTRACTOR PAYS PRICE FOR INACTION

Failure to take decisive action on HSE advice ends in court

Stoneforce Ltd has been ordered to pay over £15,000 in fines and prosecution costs after failing to put right failings identified by HSE on a project in Newcastle city centre during September 2011. The company was the main contractor carrying out refurbishment work on a retail store lasting several months.

Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard (12 February) that an HSE inspector visited the site on 14 September 2011 and advised the company on site management duties.

A number of safety complaints were made to HSE in February 2012 prompting a further inspection at which safety failings were found and a Prohibition Notice was served relating to risk of falls during work height from the edge of the roof. Improvement Notices were also served relating to a lack of suitable and sufficient welfare facilities and for failing to keep the site in good order.

HSE told the court that the prosecution was the “result of the numerous failings identified at the site and the fact that some had previously been brought to the company’s attention”.

Serious risk of injury from lack of ‘good order’ on site

Stoneforce Ltd, of Hardy House, Northbridge Road, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, was fined a total of £10,000 (£2,000 for each offence) after it pleaded guilty to two breaches of Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005; and three breaches within the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company was also ordered to pay £5,195.70 costs.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Andrea Robbins said:

“Numerous failings were found on this site, including serious risks from falls from height that could have resulted in major injuries or even death. Falls from height are still the largest cause of deaths in the construction industry, accounting for half of all fatalities and more than a quarter of all major injuries.

In addition, several thousand construction workers are injured each year as a result of a slip or trip and it should have been clear that workers were at risk of serious personal injury as a result of the lack of good order on this site.

There was also a lack of suitable and sufficient welfare facilities on the site, with the only sanitary provision being four portable toilets, which were not well lit and were not kept in a clean and orderly condition. There were also no suitable washing facilities in the toilet area. Such facilities are a basic human right.”

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