Magistrates were told that concerns about health and safety on the site, where an old pub was being converted into flats, had been raised by local people, who were also worried about the risks to passers-by.
An Inspector from the HSE visited the site in March 2013 to check conditions, and enforcement action regarding unsafe work at height and inadequate fire precautions was taken against the building company. The firm was also asked to provide information about how they were managing the asbestos risks on site, but HSE heard nothing from them.
The HSE visited the site again later that month and served an improvement notice on the company, giving them four weeks to provide the workers with the asbestos awareness training they needed to enable them to identify materials that might contain asbestos if found during their refurbishment works, and to know how to deal with it correctly. The deadline was later extended by a week.
The firm failed to comply and, despite assurances to the contrary, its failure to comply persisted, remaining in breach of the notice right up to the date of the prosecution.
The prosecution resulted in the building firm receiving a fine of £2,000 and being ordered to pay £4,500 in costs for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
This building firm is typical of many cowboy building firms that pay little attention to Health & safety, Fire and Asbestos legislation whilst working on site. Through the lack of training and implementation fo health & safety policies, these employers not only put their workers at risk but also create a threat to members of the general public.
It is now more important than ever that property developers factor in the health and safety record of their proposed contractors when deciding which firm to award the work to.
For further information and advice on what responsibilities your firm or your contractors have under the health & safety legislation, please contact our Health & Safety consultants on 0845 6399 673.