Property developer fined £4,600 after endangering workers’ lives

by Alex on August 28, 2013

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Photo: Craig Sunter

A Plymouth based property developer was fined £4,600 after letting builders work in conditions HSE inspectors described as “Dickensian”.

The developer was overseeing the refurbishment of two Cardiff townhouses when an inspector discovered multiple unprotected holes on the site after a complaint was filed. Workers risked falling up to nine metres through gaps in the upper floors of both houses, as lack of edge protection left the holes unsafe.

Inspectors found further infractions of health and safety codes throughout the site. Accumulations of combustible waste posed a distinct fire hazard, while electrical distribution boards were left exposed to running water, creating the risk of electrical injuries for onsite staff. The developer took no steps to source firefighting equipment, and failed even to provide a working toilet.

Cardiff Magistrates heard how the developer was aware of the dangerous conditions his employees were working in, as he visited the site every day. Further investigation led to the discovery that he had failed to notify HSE of the project’s existence, and had not appointed a principal contractor or coordinator to manage the work.

The developer was fined a total of £4,600 after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and one breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking on the case, HSE inspector Liam Osbourne criticised the developer’s failure to plan appropriately. “Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace deaths”, he said. “It’s crucial that employers make sure work is properly planned and sufficient measures are put in place to protect workers from the risks.”

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