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Safety warnings ignored by construction company

December 3, 2012

A construction firm placed the lives of its workers and its neighbours at risk after failing to follow safety warnings on a project which involved redevelopment in the city centre of Bristol.

The construction firm, Peak Construction Ltd was undertaking work on a large dwelling in an outer suburb of Bristol, with the intention of converting the upper storeys into residential homes, as well as building two new floors constructed of timber further up the building.

While the construction work was in progress, Health and Safety Executive inspectors visited it between the months of August to October 2011, after they had been alerted of concerns that had been passed onto them by the public, identifying unsafe and dangerous work practices.

The magistrate in Bristol heard that when the inspectors visited the site, they discovered a number of bad practices that were overlooked by the company in relation to unsafe working at height. This included the operation of a portable work platform which was in use without appropriate worker harnesses. There was also a lack of protection around the edges, which would normally help to prevent falls. Badly constructed scaffolding was in use and substantial risk from materials dropping down off the roof.

Inspectors highlighted substantial fire risks as well, which included no plan present in the event of a fire, no availability of fire extinguishers no way of activating an alarm, no clearly labelled emergency escape exits and the utilisation of an open flamed gas torch within the wooden roof area, with no precautions in place in case of an emergency.
The Blakeley Green, Essex, construction firm was ordered to stop work immediately but failed to do so and continued on working in dangerous situations. When summons to court the company entered a guilty plea for breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations and was fined £10,000 with costs amounting to £4,629.

Once the hearing was over, Steve Frain, an HSE inspector, said that falling from a great height was the single most important reason for fatalities and severe injuries within the UK construction industry.

It appears evident that many companies are not providing a suitable method which prevents their workers from falling down from dangerous heights.