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‘HEAD IN THE SAND’ PROVES A COSTLY TACTIC

Ignoring regulator letters and notices ends in court and fine

Meadowdale Homes Ltd has been fined £15,000 after ignoring HSE enforcement notices arsing from work in Cradley Heath, West Midlands on 14 January 2015.

Sandwell Magistrates heard that an HSE “routine inspection” found issues with scaffold and other work at height practices and HSE sent a letter to the company highlighting the concerns.

The company failed to respond to the letter and two Improvement Notices (INs) were subsequently served requiring the company to arrange Site Manager Safety Training and to address the scaffold and other work at height issues. HSE received no response  and when HSE inspectors paid a further visited none of the matters resolved.

Further letters over several months were also ignored and the company was invited to attend an interview under caution but did not attend.

Matter found could have been resolved easily

Meadowdale Homes of trading from Oak Lane, Kingswinford admitted two breaches of Section 33(1)(g) and one breach of Regulation 4 (1) of Work at Height Regulations. The firm was fined £5000 for each breach (£15,000) plus full costs of £1617 were awarded to HSE.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Gareth Langston said:

“Initially this was a perfectly normal routine inspection, with a few things found that could have been easily resolved.

The defendant said they didn’t respond to the notices because of pressure at work. They admitted not being organised and not taking the matter very seriously, hoping it would go away.

I’d say to other businesses, it is not a good idea to ignore interaction with HSE, or it could land you in court with a sizeable fine, as Meadowdale has discovered today.”

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