£40,000 Fine for Unsafe Practices

A building contractor from Altrincham has been fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs following the collapse of building blocks and numerous unsafe practices.

The firm was the main contractor at a site in Altrincham, where they were building residential homes and apartments on the site of a former petrol station. They were responsible for all contracting works on site and employed numerous trades.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) was first made aware of the site in June 2014 when the building blocks collapsed and fell into the road and cycle path. During the investigation, the HSE found other unsafe materials and storage and ordered their removal.

Upon this first visit, the HSE issued a total of five Notices to the firm, including two Prohibition Notices, two Improvement Notices and a Notification of Contravention.

Trafford Magistrates Court heard that although some issues were rectified following the first HSE visit, the company had ignored orders issued after a second visit two weeks later to remove unsafe building materials. Effectively, the recommendations of the HSE had been ignored, putting members of the public and employees on site at continued risk.

The company was charged with failing to protect the safety of the employees, failure to protect the safety of others including subcontractors and members of the public and also failure to plan, manage and monitor construction work. They pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Following the ruling, the HSE said the company had failed in their duty to protect their workers, subcontractors and members of the public passing by this site from a foreseeable risk of serious harm.

Although no one was injured, there was the potential to cause serious injury or even death. It was nothing other than good fortune that no pedestrians were passing along the pavement when the blocks fell.

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Nick Wilson

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