Head Of Training, SHP Online

December 8, 2014

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Site manager and safety consultant jailed after labourer’s death

A company co-owner and a health and safety advisor have been jailed following the death of a labourer in Fulham in December 2010.

Thirty-seven-year-old Anghel Milosavlevici was crushed to death while working on a basement excavation in Ellerby Street, Fulham. The excavations were not properly supported and collapsed, crushing and trapping Mr Milosavlevici. The emergency services were called but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Southwark Crown Court heard on 4 December how Mr Conrad Sidebottom of Siday Construction Ltd who was also the site manager, was aware of the dangerous state of the excavations, but took no steps to ensure it was safe. It was also heard that Mr Richard Golding, a qualified health and safety advisor employed by AllDay Safety Services Ltd, was also aware of the risks as he was responsible for drafting the method of work statement.

This document was found to be inadequate and was not followed, despite him having the authority to stop dangerous works, which he failed to do.

The HSE said that:

  • the method statement included information that was copied and pasted from a document relating to a previous basement job undertaken by SIDAY;
  • the method statement was prepared without reference to any temporary works engineer drawings or schemes in relation to the propping and shoring temporary works that would be needed on site. This was to be added by SIDAY at a later date according to the method statement – but this did not happen. The method statement was therefore inadequate;
  • the method of work was changed when on site, meaning that people were digging with buckets and spades, making the need for adequate propping and shoring even more important;
  • Mr Golding visited the site monthly. His last visit to the site was nine days before the incident on 23 November 2010. He maintained in interview and in court that he was unaware of any excavations apart from a shallow trial pit at the front of the building, despite the main contractor’s (PRODG Ltd) photos showing a number of deep unshored and unpropped excavations; and
  • Mr Golding did not take action even though the method statement was not being followed and he did not question the temporary works.

On sentencing the Judge said that Mr Golding’s defence (in relation to seeing no excavations on site) was “ludicrous” and that his failure to do anything when on site showed a level of disregard to the workforce that was “staggering”.

Co-owner of Siday Construction Ltd, Conrad Sidebottom, 46, of Park Road, Hertford, was found guilty of manslaughter on 2 December and was sentenced to three years and three months in jail. Richard Golding, 43, of Hadleigh, Benfleet, Essex was found guilty of exposing another to a risk of health and safety and was jailed for nine months.

Detective Chief Inspector Tim Duffield, Homicide and Major Crime Command, who worked closely with HSE, headed the investigation. DCI Duffield said: “There was overwhelming evidence that Sidebottom and Golding’s failure to carry out their respective roles directly resulted in the death of Anghel Milosavlevici. In this case the danger of collapse was not only foreseeable, it had been specifically identified by Golding in his risk assessments.”

Mr Milosavlevici’s sister Cristina and his fiancée Claudia said in a statement: “He was the most gentle, kind-hearted and generous man you could ever hope to meet.

“He worked for Conrad Sidebottom for more than two years before he was killed, but we were shocked to hear evidence at the trial about how dangerous the site had become, and how little concern Mr Sidebottom showed for the safety of everyone involved in the excavation works.

“We hope today’s verdict makes other construction company directors take stock of their own working practices, and ensure that they are doing everything possible to keep their workers safe.”

 

UPDATE: 18 DECEMBER 2014

In response to some of the comments on this in-court story, the SHP approached HSE to see if it could provide further information on the health and safety consultant and his documents, which are referred to as being inadequate. We have received the following comment from the HSE inspector, which we hope provides the information required. We have also updated the above in-court story to take into account information that was not available at the time that the in-court was written. 

The prosecution and defence agreed that Mr Golding was employed by AllDay Safety Services Limited, which is why he was charged under Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Mr Golding was tasked by AllDay to help SIDAY write their method statement. He did this by obtaining information from SIDAY about the work that was to be done and by using some information from a previous basement job that SIDAY had done – a clear cut and paste exercise in places.

SIDAY were going to use a 1.5 tonne excavator and an earth suction machine to excavate the basement.

The method statement was prepared without reference to any temporary works engineer drawings or schemes in relation to the propping and shoring temporary works that would be needed on site. This was to be added by SIDAY at a later date according to the method statement. The method statement would not have been adequate until SIDAY added in the relevant temporary works information – something that did not happen.

Additionally, SIDAY decided to totally change the method of work when they started on site. Instead of using the specified machines, they opted for hand digging. This meant people having to get into trenches to dig using spades and buckets. It would have been even more important, therefore, to have adequate propping and shoring of the excavations as people would be working in them constantly.

Mr Golding was also contracted to carry out monthly inspections of the basement dig. He did his first on the 26th October and his second on the 23rd November – 9 days before the fatal incident.

Photographic evidence presented to the Court case clearly shows a number of deep unshored and unpropped excavations throughout October and November. However, Mr Golding maintained both in interview and in Court that he did not see any excavations at all other than a small one at the front of the building, which was a shallow trial pit. He does not appear to have noticed that extensive excavation work was underway and ongoing at the site during the period of his visits.

Mr Golding did not take any action even though it was clear that the method statement was not being followed. Indeed, work was being carried out in a totally different way. He did not ask to see any temporary works drawings/schemes for the excavations.

In summary HSE concluded that he visited site on two occasions to inspect work to ensure health and safety. He claims that he did not see any excavations when on site and appears not to have challenged the changed method of working, or to have asked any questions in relation to temporary works, principally in relation to the excavation propping and shoring. The Judges sentencing remarks were pretty damning in this regard. He said that Mr Golding’s defence (in relation to seeing no excavations on site) was “ludicrous” and that his failure to do anything when on site showed a level of disregard to the workforce that was “staggering”.

Mr Conrad Sidebottom was co-owner of the company SIDAY Construction Limited, now in liquidation, and had joint equal shares with his brother and a friend – hence the SIDAY name that fused their surnames. He was also, by his own admission, the site manager for the project at Ellerby Street and visited the site regularly, some 2-3 times a week.

 

 

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Bernard Carey
Bernard Carey
6 years ago

Most of the press reports are including the phrase ” Mr Richard Golding, a qualified health and safety advisor “; presumably in court it was revealed in greater detail as to what this actually referred to. It is the sort of thing that any prosecution legal team would pick holes in. What level of ‘qualification’ did Golding have and was he a member of any professional body, such as IOSH? As a specialist publication and the magazine of IOSH to boot, I don’t think it unreasonable that such greater detail should be included, above and beyond that distributed by the… Read more »

Ralph Stubbs
Ralph Stubbs
6 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Carey

I totally agree with your feelings on this matter. I am becoming more frustrated by the numbers of persons who class themselves as SHE consultants or advisors who have little or no qualification and/or experience in the sectors they offer their services to.

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson
6 years ago

I think the case has been very poorly covered by Lauren in this particular article. Sadly, I feel she has fallen into the trap of a tabloid journalist and not reported actual details and facts that will help H&S professionals to gain a better understanding of the case, and what the future ramifications might be for other H&S Professionals. Having read many other versions of this incident there are several facts I think the SHP should have unpacked for its members and these should be a concern to us all. Firstly, other accounts have given dates and facts that when… Read more »

Lauren Applebey
Lauren Applebey
6 years ago

Thank you all for taking the time to comment on this article. I would really like to respond to Steve Johnson’s comment in particular. Firstly, I would like to explain that in no way is this case, or any of the ‘In Court’ cases covered by SHP ‘tabloid’. We have a very rigorous reporting procedure that aims to be factual and in no way sensationalist. We try to avoid the use of words such as ‘tragedy’ and report that someone has ‘died’ rather than someone was ‘killed’. We have no benefit to gain by sensationalising any story and this story… Read more »

Peter Sims
Peter Sims
6 years ago

Sadly Lauren’s comments don’t really answer the main criticisms of the original and subsequently supplemented article in SHP. Like many others of HSP’s readership, I am a safety consultant and deeply concerned by this case. Like many others I would like to find out exactly where the failings were in order to ensure that myself and my company are never placed in a similar situation. Lauren’s article merely records a few facts about the case in court and the sentencing without any details of what went wrong and where. There also seem to be various anomalies between her report and… Read more »

James Allen
James Allen
6 years ago

Very well put Lauren. If you are only reporting from the facts you are given, then that isn’t your fault. From a personal point of view, our family have friends that work on behalf of a few of the national newspapers. They have said many a time how frustrating it is to get the right information if the press office will only release certain bits. People have to understand that different press offices can release different pieces of information, so just because Lauren reported something potentially different to someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean that Lauren got her facts wrong. Some… Read more »

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson
6 years ago

Dear Lauren, Firstly, let me apologise to you, or any reader, if my comments have insulted your writing style in any way. I understand about the limitations regarding using press releases when reporting on court cases, but let’s not forget that this particular case is an extremely rare and significant event. As Health and Safety Professionals we are looking to the SHP, our professional publication, to give guidance to us as members on how we can protect ourselves and learn from these events to aid us in the future. Arguing about writing styles was never my intention. If the headlines… Read more »

Dean Williams
Dean Williams
6 years ago

Please excuse my ignorance if I am missing some vital piece of information but I would like to know why the Co-Owner Conrad Sidebottom received a 3 year 3 month sentence when the law suggests that 2 years imprisonment is the maximum sentence. I believe many convictions for fatalities are not resulting in enough prison sentences anyway, but this has lead me to carrying out a lot of research to understand why his sentence is stronger than the law suggests. I may be asked this question in training sessions or I may wish to use it if it is outlined… Read more »