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Construction Firms Ignoring Risk Warnings Likely to be Prosecuted

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has reminded construction companies that if they ignore advice about risks they are likely to face prosecution.

The reminder follows the prosecution of a Lancashire property developer after it failed to act on a series of warnings about poor security and lack of systems for managing site traffic.

Chelford Properties Ltd of Balmoral House, Ackhurst Business Park, Foxholes Road, Chorley, Lancashire was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,500 costs after pleading guilty to two charges at Blackpool Magistrates Court

Under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 Reg 16(1) (c) the company failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that only authorised people were allowed onto its construction site and under the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 Reg 15 it failed to organise a construction site to allow the safe movement of pedestrians and vehicles.

The court heard that the prosecutions related to a site at Warbreck Gardens, off Coopers Way, Blackpool where the company was developing new residential properties.

The HSE visited the site in February 2007, after the police alerted it to the concerns of local residents about the poor state of the boundary fence and children getting onto the site. They found that not only was the fence along Devonshire Road dilapidated, but also the site itself did not have an adequate traffic management system, putting people walking around the site in danger from construction vehicles.

Two Improvements Notices were served by HSE Inspector Alasdair Green to make the boundary fence safe and to improve arrangements for controlling vehicle and pedestrian movements.

HSE Inspectors had previously served four Improvement Notices for similar failings on other sites under the company’s control. The company’s own health and safety consultants had also warned it on a number of occasions that improvements needed to be made at the Warbreck Gardens site.

HSE Inspector Alasdair Green said:

"This is a company that has repeatedly put the safety of both the public and its own workforce at risk by not securing sites and by failing to manage pedestrian and vehicle movements. Construction bosses have a duty of care to ensure that their sites are operated in a safe way and to prevent members of the public from gaining access. Putting these matters right was neither expensive or technically difficult.

This company received numerous warnings, both from the HSE and from its own safety experts, about areas where it needed to improve, but it failed to take heed of the warnings. This company must take safety issues seriously.

Construction is the country’s biggest industry, but it is also one of the most dangerous. On average, 70 people die every year from injuries they receive as a result of construction work. That is more than one death every week. Many more have been injured."

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