Multiple Defendants In Court Over Development Failings

Sentences Handed To Five Parties For Unsafe Work Practices

12.02.2015

Five separate parties were sentenced this week for allowing unsafe work practices and poor welfare standards at a South London construction site.

Four flats and four homes were being built at the site in 2012 when the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received complaints from a neighbouring school regarding issues on the land.

The complaints included poorly-maintained and unattended machinery left with keys in the ignition, exposed raised storage at risk of falling onto workers, poor traffic management, and inadequate hygiene on-site.

There were also no safety records or method statements in place for the work being undertaken. The site manage was also found to be unqualified, and could not speak English, which meant no safety briefings were given at the site.

The five defendants, Unicorn Services Limited, its director Yi Long Chen and principal shareholder Mou Qiang Chen, along with Chalice Homes Limited and its director Steven Mooney, were all found guilty of breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act. 

The defendants were previously known to the HSE, having been investigated previously. Standards at their sites had not improved, resulting in total fines of £30,000 being handed down in this instance.

HSE Inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said of the verdict: “Although nobody was harmed at the development site in question, the risks were clear – as evidenced by the fact that both the neighbouring school and a member of the public independently contacted HSE with their concerns.

“Given the long history of previous HSE enforcement and advice against the respective parties, the failure to protect workers, as well as others in the vicinity, was totally unacceptable.”

Expert Opinion
The construction industry is extremely dangerous for all employees and it is vital companies take their responsibility for health and safety seriously. Yet all too often, we see incidents such as this, where HSE guidelines on safety have been ignored and measures designed to keep workers safe have not been implemented.

“Thankfully in this case, workers and members of the public were not harmed as a result of these serious safety failings, but the potential for injury was certainly there. It is crucial companies in the construction industry do all they can to protect workers and contractors at all times, which means conducting risk assessments, implementing the required safety measures and ensuring workers are trained correctly to perform tasks in a safe manner.”
Stephen Nye, Partner