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DIRECTOR IN SERIOUS DERELICTION OF DUTY

Company and director prosecuted over danger without injury

Property development company Formaction Ltd and its director have been fined for putting the lives of workers at serious risk through unsafe roof work whilst constructing a new roof on an industrial unit in Cardiff in June 2013.

A concerned member of the public alerted HSE prompting an immediate inspection which revealed workmen on a fragile pitched roof at between 5m and 8m above ground without measures to stop people falling through the roof or from the open edges.

HSE found:

  • Unsafe workplace – absence of precautions e.g. safety nets, soft landing or other fall arrest systems;
  • Lack of access – safe access to and from the roof had not been provided;
  • Fragile materials – workers walking over the sloping fragile roof; and
  • Misuse of MEWP – climbing over the top of the safety rails on a cherry picker.

Suitable staging boards to spread the load over a fragile surface should have been in place, and guard rails set up around the open edges.

The court heard that Formaction Ltd and director Derek Bawn, who was one of the workers on site, had been found by HSE undertaking dangerous work at height on four occasions between them since 2007.

Defendants aware of dangers

Formaction Ltd of Aberbeeg, Gwent, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(3) and 9(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined a total of £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,323.

Derek Bawn, of Newbridge, Gwent, pleaded guilty to breaching the same regulations by virtue of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined a total of 6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,323.

District Judge Bodfan Jenkins said:

“This is a serious case, even though there was no injury. This was a death waiting to happen and was a very serious dereliction of duty.”

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Liam Osborne said:

“Formaction Ltd and director Derek Bawn knew perfectly well that what they were doing was seriously unsafe and illegal, because of previous enforcement action by HSE and a warning of prosecution if they continued to work in this way. The workers were deliberately exposed to serious danger because of the serious neglect of safety precautions.

Carrying out roof work, especially on a fragile surface without anything to stop people falling through, or off, a roof is very dangerous and is an extreme risk to take.

The dangers of working at height are well-known in the roofing industry yet poor safety standards and lack of safeguards still exist among some contractors.

“This prosecution should serve as a reminder to anyone undertaking roof work, including senior managers and directors, to plan and carry out this work professionally, and safely.”

 

 

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