Once more, a large fine is imposed on companies that fail to manage the health risks to their workers (and others) from potential exposure to asbestos properly. Asbestos failures mean that three companies have together been fined more than £1,000,000 after workers were exposed to asbestos while refurbishing a school in Waltham Forest. The Southwark Crown Court heard that in July 2012 a worker removed part of a suspended ceiling in one of the ground floor refurbished rooms at St Mary’s school and identified suspect asbestos containing materials. Asbestos fibres were subsequently found in numerous areas in the school.
During the trial, the court heard the London Borough of Waltham Forest had a contract with NPS London Limited to manage development and refurbishment of its estate. At the time of the incident, the principal contractor for the work was Mansell Construction Services (now known as Balfour Beatty) and the subcontractor was Squibb Group Limited. The HSE investigation found that although an asbestos survey had been carried out, there were multiple caveats and disclaimers in the survey that were not appropriately checked.
Balfour Beatty Regional Construction Limited (previously Mansell Construction Services Limited) of Canary Wharf, London was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £32,364.84 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. NPS London Limited, of Business Park Norwich, Norfolk was fined £370,000 and ordered to pay £32,364.84 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Nottingham Crown Court heard that on 01 June 2015 a disabled 71-year-old man suffered bruising and injuries to his arms, legs and head from the incident involving Council Workers. The court heard that council employees were collecting branches (which were to be burned) from Rufford Park, transporting them using a tractor mounted grab attachment. During this process, the park was in use by others, and a disabled man was on a guided walk in the park. The worker using the tractor to transport branches through the park could not see the member of public ahead and collided with him.
Nottinghamshire County Council has been fined after a member of the public was injured as a result of being struck by a council tractor. The Council received a £1,000,000 fine for the incident and ordered to pay costs of £10,269.85. The council pleaded guilty to charges of breaching Sections 2 (1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Breadmakers Warburtons Ltd has been fined £1.9 million after an agency worker was injured when his arm got trapped against a running conveyor belt. The Crown Court in Nottingham heard how on 4 August 2015 the agency worker was cleaning parts of the bread line when his arm got trapped leaving him with friction burns which required skin grafts.
An investigation by the HSE found CCTV footage showing the worker cleaning parts of the line. As he reached into the line he became trapped between two conveyors and part of the machine had to be dismantled to release him. HSE inspectors found the machine could have been fitted with localised guarding to prevent access between the conveyors.
Another roof safety failure has resulted in a roofing company being fined for safety failings related to working at height. The fine related to the lack of precautions taken rather than to an injury or accident.
Brighton Magistrates Court heard how numerous concerns were raised by members of the public about work being carried out by G & S Roofing Limited. The roofing company twice ignored written advice to address the issue of working at height in an unsafe manner. On top of this history, a concerned member of the public contacted the HSE in August 2016 after seeing more evidence of operatives hired by G & S Roofing working unsafely from height. Inspectors then visited the site in response to the contact from the member of the public.
A fall from height during roof repair works leads to prosecution and fine – a Stranraer based groundwork company was fined after a worker fell more than seven metres through a fragile roof.
The Stranraer Sheriff Court today heard the 42-year-old had been sub-contracted by McKeown Groundworks Limited, to carry out roof repairs on a barn at Whiteley’s Farm, Stranraer. On 24 May 2016, the worker arrived at the farm to work on the roof. As he walked along the roof he stepped on a translucent light panel that broke under his weight resulting in his falling through the roof and onto the ground below. The worker suffered a compression fracture of the lower back as a result of this incident.
Roof works fall from height – an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that McKeown Groundworks Limited failed to adequately supervise this work at height and relied on the experience of the workers to avoid injury while working at height. It was also found that McKeown failed to plan the work at height and therefore no control measures had been put in place to prevent workers falling from or through the roof.
The Central Hotel (in Golders Green, London) has been fined £20,000 for a range of fire safety offences, including the lack of a fire risk assessment, and the absence of smoke alarms and emergency lighting.
The Hoop Lane Trust (owners of the Central Hotel) was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to five offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The London Fire Brigade (LFB) was also awarded costs of £15,000.
When fire inspectors from London Fire Brigade visited the 24 room hotel following a small fire in its 13 bedroom annexe in June 2013, they discovered a number of fire safety issues, including:
- no evidence of fire risk assessment
- no smoke alarms or smoke detectors
- inadequate fire doors
- no emergency lighting
- no evacuation procedures in place
Fire safety failures resulted in a corporate landlord and its management company being handed a large fine. They both failed to carry out a fire risk assessment for an apartment building, which was destroyed after a fire broke out.
Property owner Crownpark Investments, along with City Estates (who managed the six-floor terraced house conversion in Pimlico) pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The fire broke out during the early hours of 21 February 2011, and 8 fire engines and about 60 firefighters were called to tackle the blaze. The fire damaged the second, third and fourth floors, and thirteen people had to be rescued.
Inspectors from the London Fire Brigade discovered several fire safety failings. These included a lack of fire alarm or detection system inside the flats and the communal areas, and no fire risk assessment in place for the building. They also found that the doors to the individual flats provided inadequate protection to the escape route in the event of a fire.
An investigation by the HSE found the company failed to identify the risk of drowning with the maintenance activity which was undertaken by RG (employee) and his colleagues on a regular basis.
Truro Crown Court heard that RG, a catchment operator, was working on the sand filtration unit of the Falmouth Waste Water Treatment Works in December 2013 when a colleague discovered him face down in water. He died at the scene having drowned. South West Water has been sentenced following the death of 54-year-old RG. He was last seen working on the top of the unit several hours before he was found by his colleague who was responding to the lone worker system. An investigation by the HSE found the company failed to identify the risk of drowning with the maintenance activity which was undertaken by RG and his colleagues on a regular basis.
South West Water Ltd of Peninsula House, Rydon Lane, Exeter pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, was fined £1.8million and ordered to pay costs of £41,607.71.
Three directors jailed for health and safety offences. Three company directors have been jailed following the death of a worker who fell while working on a roof at a warehouse in Essex.
An employee of Koseoglu Metalworks Ltd (NV, aged 63) died in hospital after falling through the roof of a warehouse in Harlow in April 2015. At the hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court, Koseoglu Metalworks Ltd admitted an offence of corporate manslaughter and its sole director, Kadir Kose, admitted an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA).
Ozdil Investments Ltd denied corporate manslaughter and a HSWA offence but was convicted following a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court. Two of its directors, Firat Ozdil and Ozgur Ozdil, were convicted of a HSWA offence and were jailed for twelve months and ten months. Kose was jailed for eight months.
Workers exposed to asbestos – all persons who have control of the repair and maintenance of non-domestic premises need to ensure that the correct control measures are put in place to prevent exposure to asbestos, so far as is reasonably practicable (based on Section 4 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974).
Two Essex-based companies have been fined after workers were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos over a period of years, despite being alerted to the risks at their premises. Basildon Crown Court heard that asbestos was found in poor condition when Connect Packaging Ltd moved into industrial units in 2007, but that the company failed to act to control risk. As a result, its employees were exposed to risk from airborne asbestos fibres. When Connect Packaging Ltd moved out of the units in January 2009, it sublet them to Creo Retail Marketing Ltd, another company within its group, but continued to exercise some control over maintenance and repair work at the premises.