Firms prosecuted for failing health and safety standards

Three North West firms have been prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

A Manchester-based construction company has been fined and its director sentenced to a community order of 200 hours unpaid work after workers disturbed asbestos during a refurbishment project.

Manchester Magistrates Court heard that between May and June 2021, Sal Construction Ltd had been contracted to carry out refurbishment work of student accommodation at Darbishire House, Upper Brook Street, Manchester.

The project consisted of providing bathrooms for all rooms and constructing two studio flats. Work began by building two show rooms on the ground floor before beginning work on the top floor which was stripped back to brickwork. During this work, asbestos pipe lagging was removed, and debris spread across the site and in and around the skip in the yard area.

An investigation by the HSE found that this work was carried out by five or six employees under the supervision of Sal Zardooi, the sole director of the company, instead of a licenced asbestos removal contractor.

Sal Construction Services Ltd, of Finney Lane, Heald Green, Cheadle, pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 2 (1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,133.45.

Salar Zardooi, of Finney Lane, Heald Green, Cheadle, pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 2 (1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, by virtue of 37(1) of the Act and was sentenced to 200 hours unpaid work and to pay costs of £2,007.75.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector, David Norton, said: ”These risks could so easily have been avoided by acting on the findings of the asbestos survey and carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

A Stockport manufacturing company has also been fined after a contractor sustained injuries while working on the top of a machine.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that, on July 30, 2020, a contractor for Manufax Engineering Ltd was working on top of the Correa machine which had an access gantry to reach the top.

However, the maintenance task he was carrying out meant he had to step outside of the gantry to reach a particular part of the machine. While outside the gantry he lost his balance and fell. As he fell, he tried to grab the top of the machine but failed and fell 3.9 metres resulting in a fractured right elbow, two fractured ribs and two pelvis fractures.

An HSe investigation found that the company had no safe system of work for the task that was being carried out, there was a lack of supervision and no formal monitoring system in place to ensure that employees and contractors were working safely on site. The task was not planned, supervised, or carried out in a safe manner.

Manufax Engineering Ltd, of Cromer Street in Stockport, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,205.42.

HSE inspector, Stephanie Simcock, said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related injury and fatality in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.”

Meanwhile, Abbots Mead Ltd, a building maintenance company based in Cheshire, has been fined £20,000 for poorly managing work at height while carrying out repairs to a roof and cleaning the gutters of a commercial unit in Wolverhampton.

Dudley Magistrates Court heard that on January 29, 2021, while carrying out repair works to a fragile roof of a commercial unit, an apprentice employee fell through a skylight. The employee fell approximately six metres to the concrete floor of the warehouse below contacting the racking on the fall. His injuries included fractures to the hip and wrist.

An investigation by the HSE found that employees had not been informed they were working on a fragile roof and no measures had been implemented for working on a fragile surface. The company failed to properly risk assess the task and to provide the appropriate control measures to prevent a fall.

Abbots Mead Ltd, of Knutsford Way, Sealand Industrial Estate, Chester, pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and received a £20,000 fine. Abbots Mead Ltd was also ordered to pay costs of £3,873 and a victim surcharge.

HSE inspector, Aaron Fisher, said: “Companies and individuals in control should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standard.”

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