Builder fined after sacks of rubble thrown from building window

A Coalville construction firm working in Leicester has been sentenced after workers were spotted throwing sacks of rubble from a building project opposite a police station.
Police officers called the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as debris was being launched out of a fifth floor window to a flat roof several metres below. They also saw unsafe working at open edges with no fall protection.

HSE inspectors arrived at the site on 2 October 2014 and witnessed the activity first hand, and after investigating prosecuted the firm.

J A Ball Ltd. was contracted to carry out work to refurbish former office space into flats at Allied Place, 44 Abbey Street, Leicester.

Leicester Magistrates’ Court was told company director Adam Ball decided soft stripping work should begin and walked the site with a worker who was not a site manager while issuing instructions.

The court heard Ball had not ensured a refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey had been carried out on the site before work commenced. No paperwork was given to the worker regarding the methods to be used to carry out this work.

No risk assessments or site paperwork was given to Ball’s employee and no site file existed. There was a substantial amount of waste generated and placed into the rubble bags. These were initially taken down the stairs to the flat roof and then dragged across the flat roof and thrown over the edge into the skip at ground level.

The flat roof had a number of unprotected fragile roof lights across it and there was no edge protection on the flat roof. Mr Ball’s employees then decided it would quicker to simply throw the rubble bags out of the window while they were working on the fifth floor. So while standing on the window sill of an open window bags were thrown to the flat roof before being dragged to skip.

HSE told the court that Adam Ball had arranged for work to begin on a site without ensuring that the proper procedures had been followed, and that all workers had been given adequate information. He also made incorrect assumptions about his employee being competent to manage this project.

J A Ball Ltd, of Property Court, Telford Way, Stephenson Industrial Estate, Coalville admitted breaching of Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £13,000 with £1182.00 costs.

HSE inspector Sarah Hill said: “‘It’s completely unacceptable for anyone to work at open edges with no fall protection As you can see from the pictures, there was a possibility of a fall, the consequences of which could have led to people being seriously injured or killed. Additionally there were real concerns for public safety from falling materials.

“Work on refurbishment projects needs to be properly planned, and all management procedures put in place before any work activity commences. Work at height is still the biggest cause of fatal accidents in the construction industry and unless the correct controls are in place before work starts, lives will be needlessly put at risk.”

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.”