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Cladding contractor fined £240k for fire safety failures

30 Oct 23 Residents of a Liverpool apartment block were put at risk during removal of dangerous cladding.

Google Streetview captured the cladding remediation works
Google Streetview captured the cladding remediation works

When combustible Grenfell-style cladding was found on The Circle, an eight-storey building on Henry Street in Liverpool, Green Facades Limited was contracted to remove it..

When an inspector from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) first visited the site during the remedial work, on 10th January 2022, the inspection revealed that in preparation for the removal work combustible material had been left exposed and there were inadequate means of escaping from the scaffold that was being erected.

When the inspector returned a few days later, on 21st January 2022, the situation had got worse. Further combustible material had been exposed with no protection from potential sources of ignition, and combustible cladding material was found lying on residents’ balconies. As the building remained occupied during the works, the inspector alerted Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, which took its own enforcement action.

Green Facades Limited had been subject to earlier enforcement for similar breaches during cladding removal at a site in London. At that time the company was provided with advice on sustainable compliance with the regulations.

An investigation by the HSE found that Green Facades, had failed to take appropriate precautions to address the risk of fire and to ensure the safety of residents, workers and others.  It had also failed to take account of published guidance on the safe removal of cladding following the previous issue in London.

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Green Facades Limited of Woolwich Road, London pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 11(1) and 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. At Liverpool Magistrates’ Court the company was fined £240,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,405.

After the hearing HSE inspector Jackie Western said: “The disturbing irony of this case is that work to protect residents from fire risk ended up making the situation more dangerous.

“This prosecution highlights the need for responsible management of the removal of cladding. The potentially tragic consequences of fire involving this type of material are well known following the Grenfell Tower fire.

“Despite earlier interventions and advice from HSE, and the availability of a wealth of guidance from HSE and others, this company continued to fail in its duty to address the risk of fire, putting people’s lives at risk.”

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