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DEVELOPER AND DIRECTOR IN COURT OVER NEGLECT

Excavation risks were uncontrolled and welfare inadequate

K W Bell Group Ltd and its managing director Keith Bell, aged 74,  have both been prosecuted over poor welfare facilities and unsafe excavation work at a construction site in Gloucestershire.

In December 2013 HSE identified a number of concerns at the new-build development in December 2013 including a lack of hot running water and washing facilities along with an unsupported excavation for a new sewer.

An Improvement Notice was issued requiring urgent welfare improvements and further excavation work prohibited until excavations were  properly supported.

Cheltenham Magistrates heard (26/01) that five homes were being constructed on the site. The work commenced in April 2013 and was overseen by Keith Bell. Both defendants admitted that welfare and safety standards at the site fell short and offences committed with the consent, connivance or attributable to the neglect of Keith Bell.

Excavation collapse could have been devastating

K W Bell Group Ltd, of Cinderford, was fined a total of £4,000 and ordered to pay £765 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Keith Bell, of Elton, Gloucestershire was fined £9,000 with £3,502 costs after also pleading guilty to the same breaches.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Sue Adsett said:

“The standards I saw at the Hudson Lane development were poor. The excavation work, in particular, was a major cause for concern because there was clear evidence of excavation entry without adequate precautions. The consequences of the sides of the excavation collapsing on someone could have been devastating, and precautions, such as a trench box, could have easily been provided mentioned in the company’s own method statement.

The welfare failings  – no toilet or hand washing facilities for four months worth of construction work – were particularly disappointing given previous Improvement Notices served by HSE on the subject at other sites.  Construction workers need access to hot running water and washing facilities in order to remove potentially harmful dirt and dust before they eat and drink. It is a clear legal requirement, and both parties should have known that as experienced developers.”

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