North Devon housing company and contractor put workers’ at risk

Workers carrying out extensive boiler renovations on houses in Ilfracombe were exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos because of failures by a two local companies.

Two employees of Pilkington Plumbing and Heating Ltd were allowed to carry out removal of a back boiler and to drill a wall panel at a house in Jubilee Close, Ilfracombe, after the company started work despite not receiving an asbestos survey from North Devon Homes.

The incident, on 27 September 2012, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted North Devon Homes for safety failings at Barnstaple Magistrates Court today.

The court heard that Pilkington had requested asbestos survey information on the properties but decided to go ahead without having carried out a sufficient assessment of work liable to disturb asbestos.

Instead, the contractors relied on information about asbestos on North Devon Homes’ website for contractors, but this was not specific to each property being worked on and was incomplete or misleading.

As a result, asbestos insulation board (AIB) was disturbed and the workers exposed when fillets of a fire surround were moved, an AIB panel above a door was drilled and another AIB panel moved.

Residents in the affected properties, which were all being refurbished, had been vacated during remedial works to remove asbestos containing materials.

North Devon Homes Ltd, of Westacott Road, Barnstaple, pleaded guilty to a breach of Construction (Design Management) Regulations and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £650.

Pilkington Plumbing and Heating Ltd, of Pilton Street, Pilton, Barnstaple pleaded guilty to two breaches of Control of Asbestos Regulations at an earlier hearing before the same court (on 8 October) and was fined £1,500 with £642 costs.

HSE Inspector Barry Trudgian, speaking after the hearing, said:

“As a result of North Devon Homes’ failure to provide the required information and Pilkington not waiting for the asbestos details before starting work, two workers have been needlessly exposed to asbestos.

“The risks associated with asbestos in housing stock are well-known and the regulations governing its removal are long-standing. This incident could have been avoided if Pilkington had carried out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the work liable to disturb asbestos.”

Essex construction firm in court for health and safety breach

An Essex construction firm has been fined for failing to provide adequate sanitation facilities for its workers.

An inspector from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the company’s site at Camper Road in Southend on 26 March 2014 and issued an Improvement Notice after finding sub-standard facilities for workers on site.

Dantel Construction Ltd was prosecuted at Southend Magistrates’ court today (7 Jan) after it failed to respond to HSE’s enforcement action by improving the welfare facilities for workers. Two months after the date of compliance of the Improvement Notice, they still hadn’t brought standards up to an acceptable level.

Dantel Construction Limited, of Wantz Road, Dagenham, was fined £ 2,000 and ordered to pay £1,940 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work act.

Health and Safety Inspector Adam Hills said:

“Construction workers have the right to sanitary and welfare facilities including having an adequate supply of hot and cold running water. There is really no excuse to subject workers to pre-Victorian conditions. Sadly, however, these basic requirements are too often neglected.

“A cold water tap and toilet on their own are not adequate. Decent facilities will positively benefit health and well-being and help prevent ailments and infection.”Yuck2


Unregistered gas fitter put lives at risk

An unregistered gas fitter put lives at risk because of his poor work illegally fitting boilers.

Arash Raeisinezhadian, 30, illegally carried out gas work at four properties in Swindon between 30 November 2013 and 22 February 2014.

Mr Raeisinezhadian’s activities were investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which prosecuted him at Swindon Magistrates today (19 January).

The court heard that Mr Raeisinezhadian was paid by a letting agency to remove an old boiler and install a new one at a domestic property in Kopernik Road, Haydon End. He was also contracted to install boilers at homes in Belle Vue Road, Pennycress Close and Abbey View Road.

When the work was checked by a registered gas engineer, the installation at Kopernik Road was classed as “immediately dangerous” because a gas leak was detected and the flue was not installed to the manufacturer’s instructions. Faults, including a gas leak, were also found with the work at Belle Vue Road.

Arash Raeisinezhadian, of Faringdon Road, Swindon, pleaded guilty to four breaches of health and safety legislation and was fined a total of £2,150 and ordered to pay £831 in costs.

HSE Inspector Paul Newton, speaking after the hearing, said:

“Only engineers registered with Gas Safe can carry legally carry out gas work. This case shows the risks of using illegal gas workers and it was fortunate no-one was seriously hurt.

“If gas appliances, such as ovens, cookers and boilers are not properly installed there is a risk of fire, explosion, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Russell Kramer, of Gas Safe Register, said:

“Illegal gas work is dangerous and puts lives and property at risk. With one in five illegal gas jobs found to be immediately dangerous, it’s vital that people only use Gas Safe registered engineers to carry out gas work.”

You can check if an individual is Gas Safe registered by asking to see their Gas Safe ID card, calling Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting

Firm in court after routine inspection reveals unsafe work at height

A construction company with a record of endangering the lives of its workers has been fined after the Health and Safety Executive found once again it was putting workers at serious risk of falling from height.

Inspectors who paid a routine visit to AM Construction Ltd’s site in Tildasley Street, West Bromwich, on 15 May 2014 found men working on the first floor without scaffolding, edge protection, airbags or other fall prevention or mitigation measures.

A Prohibition Notice – the company’s ninth in ten years and the eighth relating to work at height – was served by HSE halting all work at height immediately.

Today (20 Jan) at Black Country Magistrates’ Court, AM Construction Ltd, of Kingshill Avenue, Hayes, Middlesex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £5,300 and ordered to pay £1,157 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Gareth Langston said:

“Work at height is the biggest cause of death in the workplace and remains a priority area for HSE. When companies regularly fall below the minimum legal standards and repeatedly ignore advice prosecution is inevitable.

“AM Construction Ltd has become a repeat offender in ignoring HSE’s advice and failing in its duty to ensure the safety of its workforce. It is extremely lucky that no-one was killed or hurt.”

Businessman fined for asbestos failure in Colwyn Bay

A businessman allowed the spread of asbestos in an industrial building by not employing licensed contractors to remove the potentially deadly material, a court has heard.

Peter Rees, the owner of a business unit in Eagle Farm Road on the Mochdre Business Park, was selling the building to another business when the incident happened in September 2012.

He appeared at Llandudno Magistrates’ Court today after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified clear failings with his management of the material.

The court heard that the company purchasing the unit had commissioned an asbestos survey that showed the presence of a large amount of asbestos insulating board.

However, instead of employing a qualified and licensed asbestos removal contractor – as the law requires – Mr Rees used a general contractor, which resulted in asbestos dust being spread inside the building.

A complaint was raised by a licensed contractor and a significant clean-up operation was then required by an authorised contractor.

Peter Rees, of York Road, Deganwy, was fined £8,000 ordered to pay £7,400 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE Inspector, Chris Wilcox, speaking after the hearing, said:

“The potentially lethal effects of exposure to asbestos are well known.

“Mr Rees’ failure to use a qualified and licensed company to remove the asbestos led to contamination inside the building. Fortunately, HSE was made aware of the incident before it was reoccupied by the new owners.

“Anyone who owns or has control of non-domestic premises has a legal duty to manage the risk of asbestos in their buildings. When asbestos is removed, it must be done by someone who is trained and competent to do the work.”

Firm in court after worker loses arm

A Powys firm has been fined for serious safety failings after a woodworker had his right arm severed while clearing sawdust from underneath a circular saw.

Brian Morris, 59, from Llanbadarn Fynnyd, was working at Stagecraft Display Ltd’s factory just outside Llandrindod Wells when the incident happened on 23 February 2012.

Llandrindod Wells Magistrates’ Court was told today (21 January) that at the time of the incident Mr Morris had finished sawing for the day and his last task after an 11-hour shift was to clean the saw and saw well.

He stopped the machine and opened the door of the well while the blade was still running down and was on one knee blowing air into the well to clear the dust. At the same time a forklift truck drove into the factory and he turned his head to look.

As he did so the moving blade caught the sleeve of his work jacket and cut his right arm. Although he managed to pull himself free, the arm was almost wholly severed.

Mr Morris was taken to hospital, where he remained for a month, but doctors were unable to successfully reattach his arm and he underwent an amputation below the elbow.

He was unable to return to work because of his injuries and has since died from an unrelated illness.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that although the machine was fitted with an interlock that stops power to the saw when the door to the saw well is opened, the saw took more than 30 seconds to stop completely.

The court was also told that a self-employed machine maintenance engineer inspected the saw three months before the incident and told one of the company’s managers that it should be taken out of service or fitted with a brake which would stop the blade much sooner.

Stagecraft Display Ltd, of Esgair Draenllwyn, Llaithddu, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £11,865 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Damian Corbett said:

“This incident was entirely preventable. Saws cause the most injuries in the woodworking industry and power-operated circular saws are dangerous machines which have caused many serious incidents.

“Employees should not be able to gain access to dangerous parts of the machinery while they are moving and Stagecraft Display had a duty, as do all employers, to ensure that this cannot happen.

“Unfortunately in this case the saw had not finished rotating despite the fact that Mr Morris had switched it off and he then inadvertently came into contact with the moving blade, suffering a horrific injury.”

Appeal to employers as new figures underline importance of workplace safety

Safety watchdog the Health and Safety Executive is marking its 40th anniversary with an appeal for British businesses to make the wellbeing of workers their top priority for the new financial year.

It comes as new figures show that nationally, across Great Britain, there were 133 deaths at work in 2013/14, more than 79,500 injuries were formally reported (through RIDDOR) and over 1.1 million people are estimated to have been made ill.

That is a huge reduction from when HSE was formally established in January 1975 to enforce the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – the statute that underpins all health and safety legislation, and that is credited with making the UK one of the safest places to work in the world. In 1974/75 a total of 651 employees alone were killed, and that is without including self-employed workers whose deaths were not recorded in the same way.

The stark decline is welcome, but local employers are being urged to review whether they can do more to protect their workforce.

The latest figures show that those involved in construction, manufacturing and waste and recycling are most at risk, with agriculture another industry where sustained improvement is needed.

Areas of particular concern include falls from height; work on machinery that is poorly maintained and guarded; and failing to properly manage workplace transport.

Samantha Peace, HSE Regional Director for the East Midlands said:

“The figures offer encouragement that we are continuing to head in the right direction, but they also show that we can still go further and challenge the industries where there is room to do more.

“Workplace conditions have improved dramatically in the past four decades, but as employers plan and prepare for the new financial year they need to ensure that health, safety and welfare is a clear focus.”

HSE Chair, Judith Hackitt, added: “In the forty years since HSE was formed, we’ve worked with businesses, workers and government to make Britain a healthier and safer place to work.

“Thousands of serious injuries have been prevented and work-related deaths have reduced by 85 per cent. HSE has helped Britain become one of the safest places to work in the world.

“But we must also recognise that there is still a big challenge to prevent the suffering which does still occur. Seeing the annual statistics always leads to mixed emotions, sympathy for those who have suffered injury themselves and for the families and workmates of those who have lost their lives, determination to improve things further as well as encouragement that we are continuing to make progress in reducing the toll of suffering.

“For the last eight years we have consistently recorded one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers among the leading industrial nations in Europe.

However, in HSE’s 40th year it is right that we acknowledge the progress we’ve made and look to a future of striving to bring down these statistics even further.

Construction (Design & Mangement) Regulations 2015

The Health and Safety Executive have published their draft L-Series Guidance to the proposed new CDM Regulations on 9th January 2015.

It is anticipated, subject to Government approval, that these new regulations will come into force on 6th April 2015.

HSE’s L-Series Guidance document, published on 9th January 2015.

The principal changes are as follows:

Strengthening of Client duties;

Introduction of Domestic Clients;

Replacement of CDM Coordinator by a Principal Designer for the planning, managing, monitoring and coordination of pre-construction phase health and safety;

Principal Designer and Principal Contractor will be required on all projects where there will be more than one contractor working on the project;

Replacement of explicit requirement for dutyholder competence with need for appropriate Information, Instruction, Training & Supervision;

Change to the HSE’s Notification level – now only required for projects lasting more than 30 days and involving more than 20 workers simultaneously.

In the meantime, CITB have published the draft Industry guidance documents which you can find below.

The guidance documents have been produced for the five CDM dutyholders and one for construction workers.

These documents set out, in practical terms, what actions are required of them to deliver a safe and healthy construction project and have been written with small businesses in mind.

It should be noted that the new proposed Regulations and supporting guidance documents are all in draft form before they come into force and may be subject to minor changes. They do however offer duty holders the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the HSE’s main requirements before they come into force in April.

Download the draft HSE/CITB Industry Guidance documents

Even the big firms get it wrong, JCB fined after worker crushed

JC Bamford Excavators Ltd has been fined after a worker was left with multiple injuries after being crushed during the assembly of a telescopic handler.

Roger Pearce, 56, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, was installing the vehicle’s offside light and mirror arm at the firm’s Lakeside works in Rocester, Staffordshire, when the incident happened on 3 June 2013.

Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court today (14 January) heard Mr Pearce had to crouch down so could not be seen by a colleague testing the steering, resulting in him being crushed between a wheel and the bodywork.

He fractured ten ribs; damaged the bones at the base of his spine, and injured his bladder and kidney. He was hospitalised for ten days and is still undergoing treatment. He has not been able to return to work.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation identified that, at the time of the incident, there was a designated area of the assembly track where hydraulic fluids were pumped into the machine and steering and other systems operated to force the fluids through the system.

HSE found the assembly sequence for the telescopic materials handler was changed, which led to the fitting of the front offside light and mirror arm being moved from a point when the hydraulics were not live, to a point when the hydraulics were live and functions such as steering were tested.

JC Bamford Excavators Ltd, of Lakeside Works, Denstone Road, Rocester pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 3(1)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £1,390 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector David Brassington said:

“This was a serious incident with Mr Pearce sustaining injuries from which he has yet to recover.

“It was also a preventable incident. JCB had allowed the introduction of a serious hazard and failed to assess the risk from this change. The controls that were in place were inadequate and Mr Pearce suffered serious harm as a result.

“Since the incident, the fitting of the light and mirror arm has been moved back to earlier in the assembly sequence when the hydraulics are not operational. Other changes have included barriers around the assembly area and the introduction of a banksman to control personnel working within it.

“The risks associated with the manufacturing processes involving large pieces of powered equipment should be assessed to ensure that there are effective controls and safe work procedures to protect those involved in this work.”

Roofing firm in court after teenager breaks back in fall

A building firm has been fined £10,000 after a 17-year-old mental health patient broke her back and pelvis when she fell over six metres from the roof of the Royal Preston Hospital in Fullwood.

W Hughes and Son Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the company had failed to prevent access to the scaffolding on the site.

Preston Magistrates’ Court heard today (14 January 2015) that the firm had been hired to replace the flat roof on a single-storey section of the hospital. It used scaffolding to reach the roof but failed to properly fence off the steps leading up the scaffolding tower.

The 17-year-old, who was staying in the hospital’s Mental Health Unit, was able to climb the scaffolding on 17 October 2013. She fell from the roof in the gap between two buildings and the emergency services had to remove a hospital window to free her. She was in hospital for several weeks as a result of her injuries.

W Hughes and Son Ltd, of Collinson Street in Preston, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £516 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Chris Smith said:

“A vulnerable teenager was badly injured because W Hughes and Son Ltd failed to make sure its scaffolding was properly fenced off.

“Construction firms have a legal duty to make sure construction sites are secure and clearly signed but that didn’t happen in this case.

“It’s vital that companies think carefully about how they plan projects in public places, such as hospitals, so that members of the public are not put at risk.”