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February 12, 2010

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Property firm failed to discharge its duties as a construction client

A property company and a construction contract worker have been fined a total of £13,000 after a labourer fell through a roof.

Perryman Properties Ltd contracted Demetrius Michael to carry out refurbishment work at an industrial unit in Haringey, north London. The project required Michael to partition the premises into 30 separate units.

Michael sub-contracted part of the work to Ahmet Ergun, a self-employed builder trading as Ergun Building Services. On 19 May 2009, an unskilled labourer, Aydin Acay, was working with Mr Ergun, and both were instructed by Michael to inspect part of the building’s roof.

When Mr Acay stepped on to the roof, which was made of asbestos-cement sheeting, it gave way and he fell 6.5 metres to the concrete floor below. He was taken to hospital and received treatment for two fractured vertebrae and serious injuries to his hands.

The HSE’s investigation found that Perryman Properties Ltd had failed to appoint a CDM coordinator and a principal contractor. It also failed to ensure that it had appointed a competent contractor, and that suitable management arrangements were in place.

At the City of London Magistrates’ Court on 9 February the company pleaded guilty to breaching reg.4(1)(a) and reg. 9(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, for failing to appoint a CDM coordinator and a principal contractor. It was fined £7000 and ordered to pay £4486 in costs.

HSE inspector Paul Hems said: “Clients have one of the biggest influences over the way a project is run and, because of this, they are accountable for the impact their approach has on the health and safety of those working on the project. Perryman Properties Ltd’s failure to discharge its client duties contributed to the creation of an unsafe working environment at the site.”

Demetrius Michael appeared at the same hearing and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(2) of the HSWA 1974. He was fined £6000 and ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £4430.

Inspector Hems added: “As the person in control of the site, Demetrius Michael failed to ensure that work was properly planned and appropriately supervised. As a result of this Mr Acay fell through a fragile roof and suffered serious injuries to his lower spine and his hands.”

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