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DEVELOPER / BUILDER OPERATED “DICKENSIAN” SITE

Prosecution triggered after complaint to HSE reveals widespread project risks 

A property developer from Devon has been fined after he put lives at risk at a “Dickensian” site in Cardiff. Mr John Pinn was refurbishing two Victorian terraced properties in Cardiff in November 2012 when the failings were uncovered by HSE following a complaint.

Cardiff Magistrates heard (27 August 2013) that Mr Pinn visited the site every day and would have been aware of the dangerous conditions to which construction workers were exposed.

HSE found both properties were ‘gutted’ with additional floors being installed. There were large unprotected openings several metres deep and unprotected open edges on all three upper floors of both houses. General site conditions on site were described by HSE as ‘Dickensian’ and with:

  • substantial accumulations of combustible waste;
  • no fire-fighting or fire-detection equipment;
  • electrical distribution boards with water pouring over them; and
  • no welfare facilities i.e. working toilet and basic washing equipment.

The court was told that Mr Pinn failed to notify HSE that he had started a construction project likely to last more than 30 days and had not appointed a Principal Contractor or a co-ordinator to plan, manage and monitor the work. 

Defendant profited by not implementing H&S procedures

John Pinn, of Powisland Drive, Plymouth, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and one breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. He was fined a total of £4,600.

In sentencing Mr Pinn, Deputy District Judge Jim Davies said that it was clear Mr Pinn “was endeavouring to do the work on the cheap” and had “profited by not implementing the required health and safety procedures”.

Speaking after the case, Inspector Liam Osborne said:

“Mr Pinn knew what his responsibilities were under the law, and must have known the serious risks that his builders faced whilst working for him because he visited the site every day.

The site conditions were Dickensian in the extreme. Planning construction work properly and managing what goes on is vital in keeping workers safe.

Any holes should be covered and proper edge protection fitted. Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace deaths and it’s crucial that employers make sure work is properly planned and sufficient measures are put in place to protect workers from the risks.”

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