Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Two Reminders Of Construction Industry’s Need To Address Safety Issues
Posted by David Cant on August 8, 2013
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roofing health and safetyAs has often been noted, both through this blog and in official statistics from the HSE which we have referred to in the past, the construction industry continues to represent the highest risk in terms of workplace injuries, and accidents in the workplace.

During the past week we have seen two significant incidents, both occurring within the construction industry, and they serve as reminders as to how important it is to follow appropriate protocol and to never take shortcuts where safety is concerned.

Double House Collapse On Fulham Road

A construction firm based in Buckinghamshire appeared in court this week following the collapse of two properties on Fulham Road during a renovation project. Fortunately no one was injured, but this is largely down to luck rather than any implementation of appropriate health and safety guidance. Indeed the catalogue of failings is truly alarming to read.

Ethos Construction had been employed to carry out renovation and refurbishment of 14 buildings along Fulham Road, converting them into 56 new apartments and 13 commercial units. Unfortunately as a result of many safety failings two of the properties collapsed very suddenly, reducing them to piles of rubble. The collapse also caused significant structural damage to a number of nearby properties.

The HSE immediately served a Prohibition Notice preventing any further work until a full inspection was able to confirm the site to be both stable and safe.

The safety failings identified by Ethos Construction included:

  1. Buildings were allowed to become weak and unstable due to partial demolition and the removal of party walls
  2. No assessment was carried out to identify any possible risk of collapse
  3. Workers were not sufficiently trained or assessed to ensure competency
  4. Large piles of bricks were stored on upper floors, creating over-loading risks
  5. Building props were poorly positioned and installed
  6. An unsafe 3 metre deep excavation trench ran the full length of the site reducing foundation support
  7. Flammable materials were poorly stored and controlled creating a fire risk
  8. Suitable emergency exits were not provided
  9. Fire detection and fire-fighting equipment was not sufficient
  10. The site security was inadequate

As a result of these failings the company was fined £14,000 with costs of £9,000. The only fortunate fact is that the collapse occurred at the weekend when no workers were on site, and the collapse did not breach the public highway, which could potentially have caused major injuries and hazards.

Two Construction Workers Injured In Archway Collapse

Also this week magistrates have been hearing the case of Brims Construction Ltd, based in Newcastle, which has been fined £1,000 with costs of £5,000 followed the injury of two workers.

The construction workers were fitting metal reinforcement bars into pillars supporting an arch, and as part of the work holes were drilled into the pillars. These cavities weakened the pillars, and this resulted in the partial collapse of the arch above.

As the workers became aware that the work on the pillars was weakening the archway they created a plan to shore up the arch, but it transpires that this plan was not reviewed or approved by Brims to ensure that it was safe.

Although both workers survived, they each suffered injuries which were entirely avoidable. Unfortunately this case illustrates a tendency in the construction industry to carry out work and then assess it afterwards. We’ve seen many such examples of this in the past.

If you have any concerns about workplace safety within the construction industry, or are a health and safety manager and require additional help or guidance then call one of our experienced Health and Safety Advisors today on 0800 1488 677.

About 

David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Construction Health and Safety, Health and Safety Services, Workplace Safety

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