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Builder Prosecuted Over Safety Failings

Construction Firm Lands In Court Over Unsafe Site in Manchester


A construction firm has been prosecuted after ignoring a series of warnings about safety failings at a building site in north Manchester.

Waterloo Construction, which is based in the city, was taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over practices involving the unsafe stacking of bricks as it carried out work building ten terraced homes at a site in the Cheetham Hill area.

The company had been stacking bricks on scaffolding with no measures in place to prevent them falling on people who might be passing by. An HSE inspector first spotted the problem during a site visit in November 2013.

A prohibition notice was promptly served instructing Waterloo Construction to either store the bricks at ground level or to put in place guards to eliminate the risk of the bricks toppling.

However, the company did not comply with the instruction and on each of three subsequent visits, the last of them in April 2014, it was found the bricks were still being stacked in the same way. As a result, the HSE decided to prosecute the firm.

Waterloo Construction (Manchester) pleaded guilty in the hearing at Trafford Magistrates' Court to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after failing to comply with the prohibition notice. It was fined £10,000 and forced to pay £1,445 in costs.

HSE inspector Laura Moran said: "If one of the bricks had fallen from the scaffolding and struck someone on the ground below then they could have suffered serious head injuries.

"We gave Waterloo Construction several opportunities to improve safety, returning to the site on three separate occasions after my initial visit, but bricks continued to be stacked unsafely on scaffolding."

She added that the case should act as a "warning" to firms that do not recognise that prohibition notices are "legally enforceable".

Under HSE protocols, an inspector's job is to take enforcement action where there is an 'actual risk of serious personal injury'.

Expert Opinion
The construction industry is one of the most dangerous sectors to work in and it is vital employers take this into account and ensure their workers and contractors on site are protected by complying with the latest health and safety regulations.

“Thankfully in this case, nobody was hurt, however the HSE felt that there was the possibility for workers to suffer an accident and issued a number of prohibition notices to ensure safety standards were improved. The fact that these were not acted upon is completely unacceptable as the company continued to put workers at risk of injury.

“The construction industry as a whole needs to learn from serious problems like this if health and safety in the sector is going to be improved in the long run.”
Stephen Nye, Partner

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