Charges were subsequently brought against both Coast & Country Construction and Paul Humphries Architects, and this week heavy fines were handed down.
Exeter Magistrates’ Court heard that, in early 2016, a concern was raised about the lack of health and safety controls at a large timber frame extension being built onto Manor Lodge Residential Home in Exmouth. On 1st March 2016, inspectors from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) visited the site and found numerous health and safety breaches.
During the site inspection, uncontrolled high-risk activities were witnessed that put workers at risk of death, serious injuries or ill health. The risks included falls from height, fire, slips and trips, and poorly controlled wood dust. The inspection found there was a total disregard for health and safety and site management.
In particular, the risk of fire spread associated with the construction of a timber frame extension adjoining an existing building. The 80 physically and/or mentally impaired residents of the home were put at risk of injury or death due to the possibility of fire spreading into the home.
The subsequent investigation by the HSE found that the work was not properly planned, nor appropriately supervised or carried out in a safe manner. Coast & Country Construction (formerly known as Make a Loft a Home) as the principal contractor, had a duty to control how the work was carried out and to ensure that the work would be completed safely. The timber frame extension work was designed by Paul Humphries Architects Ltd, which failed to perform its duties as principal designer and failed to consider the risk of fire spread to the vulnerable residents.
Paul Humphries Architects Ltd of Salterton Road, Exmouth pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 (1) and 11 (3) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regs 2015, and have been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,039.
Coast & Country Construction Ltd of Concord Road, Exmouth did not attend court but was found guilty in its absence to breaching Section 2 (1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and have been fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,039.
Coast & Country Construction is now in liquidation but the former owners have set up C&C Construction SW Ltd.