Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Multiple Health and Safety Failings Land Brothers in Jail
Posted by David Cant on September 1, 2014

What no Asbestos Survey or CDM Coordinator!

asbestos warning tapeThe issue of asbestos in old buildings and the risk is poses to workers has been brought to the fore by a recent case which saw two men jailed for up to 22 weeks each. Akram Hussein and his brother Inam were both jailed after repeatedly ignoring Improvement Notices issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regarding a refurbishment project they were undertaking.

The Hussein brothers’ experiences contain a number of valuable lessons for any business working in construction – particularly those keen to avoid prosecution and jail.

Improvement Notices

Inam and Akram were issued with several Improvement Notices by HSE inspectors in 2012, after it was discovered the brothers had not conducted an asbestos survey before beginning work. The novice developers were issued further notices after inspectors found that they had also failed to appoint a CDM Co-ordinator for their project.

Contrary to the Hussain’s assumptions, Improvement Notices are not optional. Failure to make prescribed improvements can lead to sites being shut, or eventual prosecution.

Takeaway: Improvement Notices must not be ignored, but acted upon as quickly as possible to improve site safety.

Prohibition Notices

When it became clear that workers had disturbed asbestos on site and that there were no safety provisions in place, HSE inspectors served the Hussain brothers with a series of Prohibition Notices. At one point the building was covered by a ‘Direction to Leave Undisturbed’ order, demanding a full asbestos site survey be completed before work could resume.

Again these orders were frequently ignored, exposing at least seven employees to harmful asbestos dust.

Takeaway: Prohibition Notices are used by HSE to call a halt to certain activities on site. Failure to adhere to these notices is not only illegal, but also place lives in direct danger.

Construction Design and Management (CDM) Co-ordinator

For any project lasting thirty days or more, developers are required by law to appoint a CDM Co-ordinator to manage onsite safety. Despite having been told of this requirement several times, the Hussein brothers continued working on their refurbishment project without one.

As complete novice developers (Akram is a snooker hall manager and Inam is a taxi driver), the Husseins were not sufficiently trained or skilled to carry out the CDM Co-ordinator role themselves. But instead of using an outsourced CDM Co-ordinator service, the brothers simply ignored HSE warnings and proceeded without one.

Takeaway: Whether you nominate an existing employee or take advantage of a low-cost CDM Co-ordinator service from an experienced provider, your business must have a named person appointed to carry out those duties. Developers without any previous experience will definitely benefit from the use of a third party CDM Co-ordinator.

The sentences handed down to the Husseins were particularly stiff. With a combined 36 weeks in jail and costs totalling £43,000, the Hussein brothers clearly demonstrate the dangers of wilfully ignoring HSE advice and placing employee heath at risk.

Have you ever received an Improvement Notice? How long did it take you to act?


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: Asbestos Surveys, CDM Regulations, CDM Services, CDM Support, Construction Health and Safety

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