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February 11, 2011

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Builder blames employees for safety failings

A builder has appeared in court for risking the safety of his employees and members of the public by leaving a structure in danger of collapse.

Ian Behagg was refurbishing two terraced houses in Lincoln city centre as part of work to convert them into flats. On 9 February 2010, officers from the local council’s building control team visited the site and became concerned that structural elements of the building posed risks to safety.

The council subsequently relayed their concerns to the HSE, who visited the site the following day with a structural engineer. The inspection found that not only had internal supporting walls and structures been removed but temporary supports had been erected in the wrong places, which had resulted in cracks starting to appear on the building. They also found that Behagg, who had assumed the responsibilities of site manager, had not carried out an asbestos survey before starting the work.

Behagg was subsequently issued two Prohibition Notices, which required work to stop until a competent site manager had been appointed, and an asbestos survey had been conducted.

HSE inspector Stephen Farthing said: “Mr Behagg’s blatant disregard for health and safety put both workers and members of the public in danger. Had the building collapsed, the consequences might have been fatal.

“HSE will continue to clamp down on small construction companies that fail to take the health and safety of their employees and the public seriously.”

Appearing at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on 7 February, Behagg blamed his employees for the safety breaches as it was they who were carrying out the work. He nevertheless admitted to breaching reg. 28(1) and reg. 28(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, for allowing employees to work in and around an unsafe structure, and for not having in place adequate temporary supports.

Behagg also said he had no previous convictions and had complied with both Prohibition Notices.

He was fined £1000 for each offence and ordered to pay £1053 towards costs.

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13 years ago

Once again a wholly inadequate punishment / penalty – the fact he openly blamed his employees for his incompetence and utter disregard for the safety of others is frankly staggering. Does he not have resonsibility to ensure training & competence? He is very fortunate that his ‘oversight’ was identified in time and therefore did not to have to deal with a dreadful incident and have to face the families of his victims.

13 years ago

Absolutely disgraceful that he has attempted to pass the blame on to his employees during his mitigation. I hope the court took this as an aggravating factor!