HSE prosecutes over work at height risk

A property company has been fined after workers were found working dangerously at height while demolishing buildings at a former aerospace plant in Hargher Street, Burnley.

Responding to a complaint, Health & Safety Executive inspectors visited the site in August last year.

They observed a worker stripping slates from a fragile roof without any measures in place to prevent a fall through it, or mitigate the potential life-threatening effects of such a fall.

According to HSE figures, 45% of deaths on construction sites in Britain last year were as a result of falls from height and 581 workers suffered major injuries as a result of such a fall.

Appearing at Burnley Magistrates’ Court, KML (Properties) Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of Work at Height Regulations and was fined £10,400.

The company, of Brunswick Street, Nelson, also pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 and were fined £2,000 for each. These breaches related to failing to plan the work being undertaken and also to provide adequate welfare facilities for operatives carrying out work on site.

Total fines were therefore £14,400 and the firm must also pay full HSE prosecution costs of £1,276 and a victim surcharge of £200.

HSE inspector Jacqueline Western, who investigated the case, said: “These breaches of health and safety legislation were entirely preventable.

“Falls through fragile roofs are a common cause of work-related death or personal injury. Poor welfare facilities can cause significant health issues for workers – in this case the concern for operatives on site was exposure to biological hazard from bird droppings, rat infestation and contamination of the site.

“Comprehensive guidance and information is available to download free of charge from HSE’s website and it is not unreasonable to expect a company in the business of construction and demolition to be aware of what the law requires.”

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