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Construction workers exposed to dangerous conditions: Property firm fined £14,400

Construction workers exposed to dangerous conditions: Property firm fined £14,400

A property firm in Burnley has been fined after the Health and Safety Executive found it had been forcing workers to operate in dangerous conditions. Responding to a complaint, inspectors visited buildings at a former aerospace plant in Hargher Street, where KML (Properties) Ltd staff were demolishing buildings.

The Health and Safety Executive inspectors observed workers stripping slates from fragile rooftops, without anything in place to prevent falling through, or any measures to mitigate the potentially life-threatening effects of a fall. Further, it was discovered that there were additional health and safety breaches, in that no plan existed as to how and when the work could be safely undertaken, and there were inadequate welfare facilities for workers on the site.

Appearing at Burnley Magistrates’ Court, KML (Properties) Ltd admitted breaching the Work at Height Regulations and was fined £10,400. The company also pleaded guilty to two additional breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, for which it was fined £2,000 for each. KML must also pay a victim surcharge, along with prosecution costs of £1,276.

Jacqueline Western, a HSE inspector involved in the investigation of 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”.

She added: “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.”

Work-related injuries at construction sites

In 2014, there were 42 deaths on construction sites in Britain, with 45% of them resulting from falls from heights. An additional 581 construction site staff were seriously injured, with 35% of the injuries caused by such a fall.

Falls from height are, according to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, the main cause of fatal accidents. Such accidents often occur due to inadequate scaffolding, unprotected openings in buildings, dangerous demolition work, lack of edge protection, and inappropriate ladders and hoists.

Those individuals injured at work may be able to make a compensation claim for accidents that were not their fault. It must be possible to prove that the injury – or fatality – was a result of the negligence of another party – the employer.

All employers have a responsibility to protect their employees, as well as contractors and visitors, from accidents and injuries. This encompasses a duty to provide necessary and safe tools and machinery for the completion of work, ensuring that all plant and machinery is properly maintained. The workplace should be kept tidy, with all floor space kept free of hazards and obstacles. Proper training must also be provided, along with all necessary safety wear.

In the case of injuries resulting from falls from a height, there are additional duties placed on employers. As far as reasonably practicable, employers should avoid asking their employees to work at heights. Where it is essential, suitable equipment to prevent falls should be provided. For example, stable platforms are considered preferable to ladders – and even if it means a delay to the commencement of work or an additional expense, such equipment should be provided.

Any breaches of, or shortcomings in, health and safety regulations can be used by employees to evidence the negligence of their employers.

Making a compensation claim for a serious injury at work

Your employer is under a duty to reduce the risk of accidents taking place in your workplace, wherever that may be. Your employer’s duty is to take all reasonable steps to maintain a safe place of work. In order to fulfill this duty, your employer must do certain things.

  • Carry out a thorough risk assessment in relation to the premises, equipment and all working practices;
  • Implement any changes that are necessary following that assessment to correct problems and reduce the risk of injury;
  • Ensure that training is provided to all employees to ensure that the correct – and safest – procedures are being followed;
  • Ensure that all work equipment is in good working order and that the relevant employees are provided with full instructions for use.

If you want to enquire about making a claim for an accident at work, construction site or other location, please contact one of our accident and injury solicitors on team on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295.

from IBB Solicitors

Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the accident/clinical negligence and the injuries sustained to PI@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.

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