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ANONYMOUS COMPLAINT LANDS REFURB FIRM IN COURT

Floor openings used to ‘bomb’ material causing danger to those below

MK Builders (North East) Limited hs been fined for dangerous practices on a building site after an anonymous complaint to HSE prompted an unannounced visit to a former hotel site in Aberdeen on 23 June 2010. The project involved conversion of the building into a 30 flat development.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard (28 March) that inspectors opened a door at the rear of the building and found debris being dropped through the internal structure from the third floor to the ground level. There as nothing on the door to warn of the potential dangers inside. Similar floor openings were at each level with unprotected open edges leading to possible falls of up to 10m.

The ground floor area, and in particular a door labelled as a fire exit, were blocked by materials that had been dropped from height. The door was also used to access the portable toilet outside and workers would apparently “shout up” when walking through this area.

Repeatedly breached health and safety requirements

MK Builders (North East) Limited, of Gainford House, Picktree Lane, Chester-le-Street, was fined a total of £4,000 after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After sentencing, HSE Principal Inspector John Blackburn said:

“Falls from height are one of the main causes of fatalities and serious injuries in the workplace, and employers cannot afford to ignore the risks.

MK Builders (North East) Ltd repeatedly breached health and safety requirements. There were a number of simple measures they could have taken, such as the use of a scaffold structure and properly fixed guard rails, as well as an enclosed debris chute to dispose of materials, all of which would have substantially reduced the risks.

This case should serve as a warning to companies that HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action when workers are unnecessarily put at risk.”

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