Altrincham contractor sentenced for block collapse

A Cheshire building company has been fined £40,000 and sentenced for safety failings at a site in Altrincham, where it was building houses and apartments.

Altin Homes was running the building works at the former petrol station site on Woodlands Road, Altrincham. The company was in control of all construction works and acted as client and main contractor employing numerous trade workers and labourers on site. The site first came to HSE’s attention in June 2014 following the collapse of building blocks across the pavement and cycle lane on Woodlands Road.

When HSE investigated the collapse of building blocks it was noted that there were other poorly stored blocks on site which were at risk of crashing through the hoarding for a second time. The company was told to remove them as soon as possible to reduce this risk.

The HSE inspector served two Prohibition Notices and two Improvement Notices, along with a Notification of Contravention during the first site visits.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard that some of the issues had been satisfactorily dealt with by Altin Homes following HSE’s first intervention but on a second visit a fortnight later, they had failed to remove the unsafe blocks which had caused the original incident. In essence, they had ignored the recommendations of the inspector and had put their own workers and members of the public at continual risk..

Altin Homes were charged with failing to protect the safety of their employees, failure to protect the safety of others including subcontractors and members of the public and one count of failing to plan, manage and monitor construction work so that it was carried out in a safe manner.

Altin Homes Limited of Altin Court, 1a, Woodlands Road, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 1HG pleaded guilty at Trafford Magistrates Court to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £40,000 with £3,000 costs.

Matt Greenly, HSE inspector, said after the case: “Altin Homes Limited failed in their duty to protect their workers, subcontractors and members of the public passing by this site from a foreseeable risk of serious harm.

“Luckily no one was injured when the blocks fell through the site hoarding but, given the size and weight of the building blocks that fell onto the pavement and highway, there was the potential to cause serious injury or even death to both employees and the general public. It was nothing other than good fortune that no pedestrians were passing along the pavement when the blocks fell.”

A statement from Altin Homes regarding the recent court ruling said: “The safety of our construction teams and the public is of paramount importance.

“Whilst we accept that there were failings with the incident which took place in June 2014 we dispute the comment that we ‘ignored the recommendations of the inspector’.

“Altin carried out all required remedial works and responded to all notices in a timely and proportionate manner. The inspector, Mr Greenly, visited the site with a structural consultant two weeks after the initial incident. In court we presented evidence of remedial action taken between the two visits. Following further correspondence Altin Homes received email confirmation on 31 July 2014 from Mr Greenly confirming his satisfaction with our actions.

“Having received no further communication or follow up from HSE, we were surprised to receive, 14 months later in November 2015, papers from HSE advising us that we were to be prosecuted for the 14 June 2014 incident.

“Following the incident the company has examined its procedures and new systems have been put in place.”

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