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News » UK » Aberdeen site highlights loophole in health & safety laws » published 4 Apr 2013

Aberdeen site highlights loophole in health & safety laws

Construction union Ucatt is calling to a change in the law after a single site in Aberdeen had four separate interventions from the Health & Safety Executive over a four-year period.

However, on each occasion after work had been stopped, the work transferred to a new contractor, effectively wiping the slate clean. The site may have been a repeat offender, but under current law it was regarded as a first offence on each occasion.

Last week (28 March) MK Builders of County Durham was fined £4,000 for breaching working at height regulations. This was a result of an anonymous tip off in June 2010 concerning work converting the former Grampian Hotel in Carmelite Street, Aberdeen, into luxury flats.

The same site has had a history of serious safety breaches, including the death of 63-year-old Malcolm Doughty in September 2009 from a fall from scaffolding.

The original developer Inveresk Developments had been issued with a prohibition notice back in July 2007 due to the risk of falling from scaffolding. In October 2008 a further inspection led to an immediate halt being placed on all work until there was a competent safety manager in place.

On each occasion after work had been stopped the site changed hands to a new contractor. Under the existing Construction Design & Management Regulations (CDM) the responsibility for the site operating safely is with the dutyholder of the site. As the HSE serves prohibition notices on a company and not on a site, as soon as a site changes hands the existing prohibition notices are wiped off, even if the problems remain.

Ucatt regional secretary Harry Frew said: “It is disgraceful that for the fourth time serious safety failings concerning working at height have been identified on this site. It is incredible that given the sites safety history and the tragic accident that occurred here that the HSE had to rely on an anonymous tip off in order to take action.”

Mr Frew added: “There will be many similar sites which have been mothballed due to a combination of safety problems and the recession. When these sites are re-started workers must be assured they are not entering a death trap. Clearly the existing regulations need to be amended if this is not currently the case.”



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This article was published on 4 Apr 2013 (last updated on 4 Apr 2013).

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