Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) arrived on the site unannounced and noticed that the workers were at serious risk of injury from a fall while they worked on converting a barn. They were immediately ordered to come off of the five metre high scaffolding, which was deemed to be unstable and was missing safety rails and boarding which prevents workmen from falling.
The company admitted it had breached the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the court ordered it to pay a fine of £5,000 in addition to £2,000 court costs. It also came to light during the hearing that this was not the first time the company’s practises had come to the attention of the HSE; in 2009 inspectors ordered work to stop on a construction site in Preston due to more unsafe scaffolding.
Jon Edwards, director at Ashtree, a health and safety training provider says it is imperative that companies sit up and take notice of prosecutions like this one. “Thankfully no-one was injured in this case, but the outcome could have been very different. Every employer is legally responsible for taking care to ensure that their staff are safe while they are at work, and this is especially important when working at height which is one of the worst culprits for deaths in the workplace.
“Companies needn’t worry that they have to have an in-house dedicated health and safety advisor. Investing in training for staff and managers would probably have been significantly cheaper for this company than the cost of being prosecuted, and can be done without employees having to take big chunks of time away from their work.
“Bringing in a specialist consultant can help employees of all levels to understand how they can play an important part in maintaining a safe workplace. Studies show that informed staff are likely to encourage colleagues to behave safely and appropriately while at work, which in turn reduces the risk of incidents. In addition the consultant can work with the company’s executives to make sure that all legal obligations are met, which would mean that any unannounced HSE inspections should be passed with flying colours.”
Find out more from http://www.ashtree.co.uk