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FINE AND PRISON FOR RECALCITRANT FIRM AND DIRECTOR

History of HSE enforcement puts housebuilder in Crown Court 

A housebuilder has been fined £56,000 and its sole director sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years. He has also been disqualified from acting as a company director of three years and fined £32,000 for safety failings following two serious incidents at a new-build development in South Wales.

In August 2011 a 22 year old bricklayer injured his back and left foot when he fell some 4m from a poorly constructed and overloaded scaffold. Six months later a workman was found working at height in the elevated bucket of an excavator in clear view of the company director.

Both incidents occurred near Port Talbot where Blackburn-based Paddle Ltd was building new homes as part of a phased development over several years.

Swansea Crown Court heard that the scaffold involved in the incident was in “very poor condition”. HSE inspectors checked the structure three days after the bricklayer had reported the incident and found it was overloaded with bricks and blocks. There was no evidence that it had been designed, erected and inspected by a competent person nor measures in place to reduce the risk of a fall inwards.

In relation to the second incident, the court was told that the dangerous practice was witnessed by a concerned householder who photographed and reported the activity to HSE. Mr Barnes was captured watching nearby, and had clearly consented to the machine being misused in this way.

Blatant disregard for health and safety management over years

The judge heard that Paddle Ltd has a lengthy history of HSE enforcement action and has been served with a number of Prohibition Notices for unsafe work at height. The company was also prosecuted by HSE in April 2010 at Bridgend Magistrates Court relating to failings at a site in St Athan.

Paddle Ltd, of Pleasington, Blackburn, was fined a total of £56,000 and ordered to pay £11,000 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Derek Hugh Barnes, of the same address, was sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for two years, disqualified from acting as a company director of three years and fined £32,000 with £11,000 costs for pleading guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Phil Nicolle said:

“Paddle Ltd and Derek Barnes have, over the years, shown a blatant disregard for health and safety management on their construction sites, as was clearly evident when we investigated the Baglan incidents.

Worker safety was clearly compromised on both occasions and the failings we identified are textbook examples of why falls from height remain such a common problem in the construction industry.

Companies and directors have clear duties of care and safety responsibilities, and it is vital they properly assess, manage and supervise all work activity to mitigate risks at all times.”

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