Construction firm and director fined for work-at-height failings
A Lancashire housebuilder and the firm’s director have been fined following two incidents at a new-build development in South Wales.
Blackburn-based Paddle Ltd was building new homes as part of a phased development over several years at a site at Cae Canol in Baglan, near Port Talbot. On 9 August 2011, self-employed bricklayer Daniel King injured his back and foot in a four-metre fall from a scaffold at the site.
The victim himself reported the incident and the subsequent HSE investigation found the scaffold to be in very poor condition. It was missing vital guardrails, toe boards, and other fall-protection measures. Inspectors discovered that the structure was also being used to take loads of bricks and blocks that it was not fit to carry.
Six months after this incident, in March 2012, a contractor was seen working from height in the elevated bucket of an excavator at the same site and in clear view of Paddle Ltd’s sole director, Derek Hugh Barnes.
This time, the incident was photographed by a concerned householder, who then reported it to the HSE.
Swansea Crown Court heard that Paddle Ltd has a lengthy history of HSE enforcement action and had received several Prohibition Notices relating to unsafe work at height. It had previously been prosecuted in 2010 over failings at a site in St Athan.
On 19 July, Paddle Ltd was fined a total of £56,000 and ordered to pay £11,000 costs after pleading guilty to breaching reg.4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and section 3(1) of the HSWA 1974.
Barnes pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 37 of the HSWA 1974 and was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and disqualified from acting as a company director for three years. In addition, he was fined £32,000 plus £11,000 in costs.
He resigned his post leading up to the trial and the company has since put two new directors in place.
HSE inspector Phil Nicolle said: “Paddle Ltd and Derek Barnes, have, over the years, shown a blatant disregard for health and safety management on their construction sites, as was clearly evident when we investigated the Baglan incidents.
“Companies and directors have clear duties of care and safety responsibilities, and it is vital they properly assess, manage and supervise all work activity to mitigate risks at all times.”
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