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July 1, 2010

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Victim strayed on to unsecured site during night out

A construction company and two of its directors must pay more than £90,000 in penalties following the death of a member of the public at a building site in West Sussex.

Lewes Crown Court heard that PIB (UK) Ltd had been contracted to carry out renovations on a large detached house in Buckingham Road, Brighton. The property was being developed to create five self-contained flats.

On 29 June 2008, Edward Dean, 24, had been out socialising when, in the early hours of the following day, he wandered into the rear garden of the property. He then tripped over an unprotected edge and fell 2.4 metres into a basement courtyard. He was knocked unconscious and died as a result of asphyxiation. His body was found when workers arrived on site a few hours later.

After notification of the incident, the HSE visited the site later that day and issued a Prohibition Notice to the company. The notice required edge protection to be put in place and a gate to be installed to prevent access to the rear of the property.

HSE inspector, Denis Bodger, said: “Unmanned construction sites should be properly secured such that people, and especially children, cannot unknowingly wander into places of danger. Edward Dean should never have been able to enter the site where there were unprotected edges.

“Falls are the largest single cause of fatal accidents and serious injuries on construction sites. Sites can be easily and cheaply secured by providing suitable fencing or hoarding, using lockable gates, and providing clear signage. Had PIB and its directors taken these simple precautions Edward Dean’s tragic death could have been avoided.”

The company appeared in court on 30 June and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA and was fined £30,000 and £6500 in costs. Two of the company’s directors, John Blankson, 55, and Steven Moore, 44, also faced legal action at the same hearing.

Blankson, who was also the owner of the property where the work was being carried out, pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 20(1)(a),(b), and(c) of the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2007. He was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3465.

Moore, who was the site manager, pleaded guilty to breaching s37(1) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £6500 in costs. He was also disqualified as a director for five years.

In mitigation, the court heard that neither the company nor either director had any previous convictions and all parties had entered an early guilty plea. Following the incident, edge protection was fixed around the ledge, and gating was installed down the side of the property. The company has not taken on any new business following the completion of this job.

Inspector Bodger added: “It was both illegal and irresponsible for PIB (UK) Ltd and the company directors to disregard the importance of security on this site – leaving obvious hazards that, in this tragic case, resulted in the unnecessary loss of a young life.”

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13 years ago

These are indeed the correct breaches in relation to Mr Blankson.

13 years ago

Perhaps there had not been an appointment of a CDM-C by the Client (Blankson?) so he was CDM-C by default resulting in the procecution under that regulation?

13 years ago

In the lead acrticle, -“Victim strayed on to unsecured site during night out” -is the reference to the owner of the property (Blankson’s) prosecution correct, since regulation 20 (1) (a)(b) and(c) under CDM 2007 refers to the “General duties of CDM Co-ordinators”. If true, is this one of the few cases where a CDMCc has been prosecuted as a result of an accident due to the failings of a contractor?

Please can you clarify?

Many thanks

Gerwyn Thomas

13 years ago

I suspect that, by not appointing a CDM-C, Mr Blankson (presumably as Client) assumed the role of CDM-C as per the Regs.

13 years ago

Perhaps it was that he had failed to appoint a CDMC (more than likely the Designer did not make him aware of his duties)and he the became the CDMC by default. Reg 14 (4)(a)of the CDM Regs.