The director of a Hertfordshire building company and the co-owners of a south London property undergoing conversion have been sentenced (11th October) for safety failings after a worker was killed in a trench collapse.
Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found the trench was inadequately supported with sheets of plywood and timber props. More substantial supports or using a safer method of trench construction, known as battering, should have been used. This was a failing on behalf of both the building company and it’s company director, who were responsible for the work, and clients (the property co-owners), who should have ensured their principal contractor was competent to carry out the project in a safe, properly planned manner.
After sentencing HSE Principal Inspector Russell Adfield said:
“Mukesh and Kiran Shah were having this conversion undertaken as part of a business venture and they were therefore ‘clients’ in this project. A client has a very major influence over how a construction project is run as they have responsibility for appointing competent advisors – principal contractors – and ensuring that arrangements are in place for carrying out the project safely. The clients in this case failed on all fronts. They had no advisors to help them understand what was required of them, the principal contractor they appointed was not competent to manage this work safely and there were no formal arrangements in place to ensure the safety of those workers on site. It appeared neither the clients nor principal contractor had any understanding of the very real risks on that site – or how to ensure those risks were controlled.”
Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: “The principal contractor for a project shall plan, manage and monitor the construction phase in a way which ensures that, so far as is reasonably practicable, it is carried out without risks to health or safety, including facilitating (i) co-operation and co-ordination between persons concerned in the project.”
Regulation 9(1)(a) states: “Every client shall take reasonable steps to ensure that the arrangements made for managing the project (including the allocation of sufficient time and other resources) by persons with a duty under these Regulations (including the client himself) are suitable to ensure that (a) the construction work can be carried out so far as is reasonably practicable without risk to the health and safety of any person.”
Regulation 9(2) states: “The client shall take reasonable steps to ensure that the arrangements referred to in paragraph (1) are maintained and reviewed throughout the project.”
Here is the HSE press release on the matter.