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Builder ignored seven prohibition notices

15 Nov 12 A building firm that repeatedly ignored safety warnings on a redevelopment project in Bristol city centre has now been fined £10,000.

Peak Construction (London) Ltd was working on Riverside House in Welsh Back to convert the upper floors to flats and adding two new timber framed floors on top of the building.

The site was visited six times by inspectors from the Health & Safety Executive between August and October 2011 following initial concerns raised by members of the public about dangerous working practices.

Seven prohibition notices were served ordering work to stop immediately but some dangerous practices continued.

Bristol magistrates heard yesterday (14 November) that on each occasion inspectors found a series of failings by the company relating to unsafe work at height, including the use of a mobile elevating work platform without worker harnesses, a lack of edge protection to prevent falls, poorly constructed scaffolding and risks with materials falling from the roof.

Inspectors also identified multiple fire risks, including no fire plan, no means of raising an alarm, no fire extinguishers, no marked emergency escape routes and the use of an open flame gas torch in the timber roof with no fire precautions in place.

Peak Construction (London) Ltd, of Takeley Road, Bambers Green, Takeley in Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Regulation 38 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for failing to make satisfactory safe working arrangements, and for allowing dangerous practices to continue. The company was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,629 in costs.

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After the hearing HSE inspector Steve Frain said: "Right from the start of the job, the company was warned about its health and safety performance and individual directors were made aware of the initial failings we identified at the site.

"The number of follow-up inspections and interventions we made in this case went far beyond what would normally be required. The same risks were clearly pointed out at each inspection, yet still the company failed to take sufficient action.

"Falls from height are the single most significant cause of death or serious injury within the construction industry and timber frame construction methods pose a greatly increased fire safety risk that requires high standards of management and control throughout a project.

"Although there was no fire on this occasion, a fire on this site carried a high risk of serious injury to the workforce and members of the public.

"These are not minor technical breaches of the law. They show a failure of leadership across the company which led to a high risk of significant injuries."

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