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Company Prosecuted Over Working At Height Failings

Fine Incurred By Covent Garden Company For Exposing Workers To Danger


A civil engineering firm has been fined after several failures to comply with working at height regulations.

Covent Garden-based Peter Lind and Co (Central Region) was taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following a visit by inspectors to a construction site on Queen Street in Mayfair in January 2014.

The inspection had been prompted by an anonymous complaint the previous month expressing concerns over safety standards at the location, where two five-storey residential buildings were being renovated.

When the inspectors arrived, they discovered the concerns were justified. Among the discoveries they made were a lack of adequate edge protection - or indeed any guards at all - at several points, meaning workers were at risk of falls of between three and eight metres.

Another place where edge protection was missing was on some tower scaffolds, where there was a lack of toe boards. There were also unsafe temporary ladders in use in place of a staircase that had been removed, and a number of heavy objects, including a fire extinguisher, left in locations where there was a risk of them falling and causing injury to those below.

The HSE inspectors responded by serving a prohibition notice requiring major changes to be carried out before work could resume, as well as two improvement notices.

Westminster Magistrates' Court also heard that three other sites where Peter Lind had been operating in 2012 and 2013 had required enforcement notices or written warnings.

The firm pleaded guilty in the hearing to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £11,500, with £1,369 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers commented: "We uncovered an almost systematic failing in regards to work at height at the Mayfair site, and the extent of the risk this created was substantial. There were numerous examples where falls could have occurred, and the consequences could have been devastating.

"Peter Lind and Co is guilty of failing to pay enough attention to performance at the site."  

HSE figures for 2012-13 showed 21 people were killed by falls from height at work in the UK.

Expert Opinion
Falls from height is one of the most common causes of injuries in the workplace, as those who work at height are exposed to a greater number of risks. Responsibility for the safety of these workers falls to their employers and it is vital they take this responsibility seriously, as the failure to provide appropriate safety equipment, training and conducting risk assessments associated with the tasks can lead to staff members suffering serious and life-changing injuries.

“Luckily in this case injuries did not occur, but a lack of safety equipment and adequate risk assessments meant workers were put in danger. Hopefully, this successful prosecution will encourage other employers to review their health and safety measures, particularly where working at height is concerned, and steps are taken to boost safety.”
Stephen Nye, Partner

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