AA Construction, a construction firm that performed unsafe demolition work and littered the site with smashed up asbestos materials in February 2011 was ordered to pay fines of more than £45,000 by Westminster Magistrates on October 24. The company was in charge of work that was being carried out near Wimbledon Chase station when the health and safety rules were breached.
Residents informed the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about their concerns that asbestos material was being discarded on the road and footpath. Furthermore, it was thought that the site which was situated not far from a school was hazardous. The HSE prosecuted the firm for their failure to adequately plan their work and survey for asbestos which, as a consequence, compromised the health and safety of its employees and the general public. Furthermore, the HSE found that the workers hired by the company were inexperienced and lacked sufficient training in areas such as asbestos removal.
The company was fined £36,000, a £15 surcharge in addition to £9,159 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
HSE Inspector, Helen Donnelly, stated –
“Members of the public rightly raised concerns about the unsafe working practices they witnessed at Quintin Avenue, and I applaud them for doing so.
“AA Construction (London) Ltd took a reckless approach to demolition, which could have resulted in a serious incident.
“Construction projects need to properly planned and safely managed by competent personnel using the right procedures and equipment.
“That clearly didn’t happen here, and I hope lessons have been learned.”
Bradford Council has been fined £15,000 by Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court following an incident where a school caretaker fell through a ceiling while changing a lightbulb just several days before his retirement on June 22 last year. David O’Hanlon, 61, has subsequently been left with a permanent disability after sustaining a fractured hip and shattered heel bone following the incident where he stepped on to an unboarded area of a loft which the fell from beneath him, at the old Beckfoot School building in Bingley.
He wanted to clear the roof void before the demolition of the old school, so he was changing a light bulb. The caretaker, who was at the school for eight years, was due to take early retirement when the school closed but was staying on until June 27 to supervise the old building’s clearance. A colleague who was also working administered first aid and contacted help when the accident occurred.
After being rushed to hospital, Mr O’ Hanlon needed three screws in his hip and was informed that a hip replacement might be necessary in addition to a metal plate in his heel. If an inspection had been performed by the Health and Safety Executive beforehand, they would have forbidden anyone from working in the loft area until remedial work had been carried out on the building. However, no risk assessment had been put in place.
Morag Irwin, for the Health and Safety Executive said that the loft resembled an “adventure playground” she then went on to say that –
“There was no competent person responsible for health and safety at all on the site,” she said.
Richard Winter on behalf of the Council said the accident had occurred because of a “genuine oversight. He claimed that he school’s management did not know that the loft space was being used. The Council pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of its employee while they were working. The council was fined £15,000 and £5,667.30 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Following the hearing, Mrs Irwin said: “This incident was completely avoidable and has essentially dashed Mr O’Hanlon’s hopes and expectations for a healthy retirement.”
Wyman-Gordon Ltd, a company that manufactures metal components, has been ordered to pay fines of £16,500 and costs of £6,178 by Lincoln Magistrates Court following an incident where a 20-year-old worker sustained serious injury at its Lincoln factory on October 2010. The young agency worker, who does not want to be named, had his skull fractured and also sustained severe facial injuries as he was working with a hand-held grinder. The wheel of the grinder broke as he was using it and the wheel was subsequently thrown from the grinder which then broke through his visor and struck him in the face.
Following the incident it was necessary for the man to undergo extensive medical treatment, such as a five-hour operation for the removal of a piece of bone that had been touching his brain. This was followed by further reconstructive surgery. Fortunately, since then he has been able to return to work again. An investigation was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive and it discovered that the agency worker did not receive adequate training for the safe use of the hand-held grinder and how to safely change the wheel.
Because of this, the worker is likely to have attached a defective grinding wheel to the grinder and then used it subsequently. If the agency worker had been adequately trained, he probably would have known this. It was also discovered that there had been no sufficient supervision when the worker was performing his duties with the grinders.
Scott Wynne, a HSE inspector Scott Wynne said –
“It is vital that workers who use hand-held grinders get appropriate training in their safe use and in how to change the grinding wheels properly. Most importantly operators need to know how to identify defects.
“Had this worker undergone such training, he may have been able to identify the defective wheel prior to using it.
“This was a preventable incident. Wyman-Gordon Ltd paid insufficient heed to the safety of this worker. As a result, a young man was left with a horrific head injury. He was extremely lucky to escape with his life.”
A building company, Parkstone Construction Ltd, has been fined thousands of pounds by Mansfield Magistrates’ Court after a groundworker suffered multiple injuries when he was run over by a seven tonne digger on a supermarket construction site in Mansfield on 8 November 2010. Michael Tomlinson, from Birmingham, sustained a ruptured bladder and a fractured wrist, amongst various other injuries, when he was struck on Jubilee Way South.
Mr. Tomlinson was working as a groundworker for the Birmingham-based company in preparations for a supermarket’s foundations. A digger hit Mr Tomlinson as it reversed when the driver did not notice he was behind it. The digger subsequently knocked him to the ground and he was crushed underneath.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation into the incident and discovered that Parkstone Construction Ltd had failed to make sure that workers were separated safely from moving vehicles while work was being performed. The company was fined £15,000 with costs of £6,447 after pleading guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Following the hearing, Nic Rigby, a HSE Inspector stated
“This incident was entirely preventable, and Mr Tomlinson could have avoided serious and painful injuries had work at the site been better managed Those in charge of construction sites must ensure that pedestrians and vehicles are effectively and safely segregated. There is clear guidance on how to achieve this and ensure incidents of this kind can be avoided.”