HSE prosecutes house builder over Bowdon mansion

Property developer Prestige Homes Construction Company Ltd has been prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive after being ordered to stop work three times over safety fears at a construction site in the affluent commuter village near Altrincham.

The HSE first issued Prestige Homes with a Prohibition Notice on 7 May 2008, following a routine inspection of the site of a new six-bedroom mansion on Stanhope Road in Bowdon.

Inspectors discovered the site was unsafe, with open edges around the foundations increasing the risk of workers being injured in a fall. After the Prohibition Notice was issued, a follow-up visit found that scaffolding had been provided and met the required standards.

However, during another routine inspection nearly 15 months later, on 28 July 2009, inspectors found large amounts of rubble around the site making access dangerous. They immediately issued a second Prohibition Notice, ordering work to stop until the site had been made safe.

But when inspectors revisited the construction site on 13 August 2009, they discovered the scaffolding was in a dangerous condition. There were missing guardrails and toe boards, and gaps in the platforms. HSE issued a third Prohibition Notice and took the decision to prosecute as well.

Prestige Homes, of Bury New Road in Manchester, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,792 after admitting two health and safety offences at Minshull Street's Manchester Crown Court on 6 May 2011.

Ian Betley, the investigating inspector at HSE, said: "The lives of several construction workers were put at risk because Prestige Homes failed to make sure the site remained safe. We gave the company two chances to improve standards but in the end we had no choice but to prosecute.

"Falls from height remain the biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of injury. We found missing guardrails on two separate occasions that meant it would have been dangerous to work on the site.

"The amount of rubble we spotted when we inspected the site in July 2009 also made it very difficult to carry out work safely. It was only by chance that no one was seriously injured."

Prestige Homes Construction Company Ltd was charged with breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to take sufficient action to prevent falls, and Regulation 27(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 by failing to keep the construction site in good order.

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