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    Homes builder failed to provide information and protection

    A builder has been fined after two labourers sustained second degree chemical burns whilst working knee-deep in wet concrete for more than four hours at a development in south west London in October 2010. The men were engaged by builder Geoffrey Cinko, aged 55, on a project to demolish five garages and erect two semi-detached homes in their place.

    Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard during a two-day trial that the two injured workers had been asked to assist with concreting a basement excavation.

    Wet concrete was poured into the excavation and the men “waded” in the concrete to distribute and smooth the material. Three hours into the work one of the men complained of severe pain to his legs. He looked for welfare facilities to wash the concrete off his legs but none were available.

    The labourers continued working in varying depths of concrete up to just below their knees for at least another hour before they finished.

    Both men sought hospital treatment that evening after experiencing painful burning sensations around their ankles and lower legs. They were diagnosed with chemical burns and were unable to return to work.

    HSE investigators found that prior to the work neither worker was briefed on the risks of working with wet concrete, which is a strong alkali that can cause serious burns and ulcers.

    Furthermore, Mr Cinko failed to provide personal protective equipment for the workers, such as boots providing cover to knee level; and welfare facilities at the site were wholly inadequate.

    Blatant disregard for safety and welfare.

    Geoffrey Cinko of East Sheen was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs after being found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

    After the hearing, HSE inspector James Hickman commented:

    “This was an entirely preventable incident that left two workers with serious and extremely painful chemical burn injuries.

    The risks associated with working with wet concrete are well-known and the necessary control measures to protect workers are easily achievable. Yet they received no protection whatsoever from Mr Cinko, who showed a blatant disregard for their safety and welfare.

    He fell well short of the required standards expected of a competent principal contractor, and I hope his conviction sends a clear message to others.”

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